Antibiotics are widely used in beef, pork, and chicken production, but there is concern that repeated use of antibiotics may increase resistance in bacteria, making vital antibiotics less effective against serious diseases in the human beings.
There is international pressure on governments, medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies to reduce the use of antibiotics. Despite the campaigns, drug companies continue to lobby against stricter regulation of antimicrobials, which have a wide range of uses.
Some feel that drug companies are willing to avoid further regulation. According to Richard Young, Policy Director for Sustainable Food Trust: “Once they have an antibiotic, they have an obligation to their shareholders to get as much money as possible from it. This is a very sophisticated industry, with a long history of lobbying. The problem is that much of the information used by regulators is generated by scientists connected to pharmaceutical companies. "
Joseph Harvey, editor of Animal Pharm, said: “It is the overuse of antibiotics in some species and countries that is causing particular concern, particularly in Asia, Latin America and southern Africa.
“Bacteria in humans and edible animals continue to show resistance to the most widely used antimicrobials. For example, resistance to ciprofloxacin is very high in Campylobacter, which causes serious foodborne infections, and this reduces the effectiveness of treatment. The multi-drug resistant salmonella bacteria also continues to spread across Europe and this has serious implications for public health. "
Are they an important part of the pharmaceutical market?
An analysis of the reports shows that pharmaceutical companies obtain large sums of certain antimicrobials. In 2016, Zoetis, which is the world's largest producer of medicines and vaccines for pets and livestock, derived 7% of its revenue from its range of ceftiofur antibiotics.
In 2016, Zoetis revenue was $ 4.8bn, which means that the ceftiofur line brought in around $ 340m. Zoetis was originally part of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
In 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration warned that due to its strength and misuse on farms, ceftiofur could pose a “high risk to public health,” in part because it belongs to a class of antibiotics. considered critically important in human medicine.
Why are human antibiotics more expensive?
Although the market for human antibiotics is smaller in large quantities sold, their value is greater than that of animals.
Dr. Gail Hansen, a public health veterinarian and antibiotic resistance expert, explains that this is because it is more expensive to produce drugs for humans than for animals.
"Basic penicillins and tetracyclines are very cheap drugs for both humans and animals, but they are cheaper for animals, just because with animals they do not need to be presented in blisters, etc."
The cost of antibiotics in animals was lower simply because they were often given to animals destined for the cheaper market of the food market.
Hansen said he had heard of people accessing animal antibiotics for human use as a result.
“Anecdotally, I have heard that in the United States, people who have access to animal drugs (farmers, ranchers, animal health workers) know that they can pay pennies for the animal drug or $ 5 for the human equivalent. I don't think much happens, but I think it happens. "
Increases mycobial resistance
Experts say that microbial resistance to antibiotics, largely fueled by drug overuse and misuse, has left the world facing "a terrible post-antibiotic apocalypse," as these treatments become ineffective.
The new research, funded by the probiotic company Deerland Enzymes, divided 32 participants, all of whom reported recurring gastrointestinal problems but were otherwise healthy, into two groups. One group was given a placebo capsule for four weeks, the other group was given a capsule from the company containing four strains of phage that are expected to attack E. coli. Neither the participants nor the researchers knew which capsules were given to which during the trial.
After four weeks, both groups stopped taking their capsules and, two weeks later, switched their capsules to the opposite type, which were then taken for a further four weeks.