Animal health companies have invested billions in veterinary research and delivered 49 new vaccines in the past two years as part of an industry-wide strategy to help reduce the need for antibiotics, the latest progress report shows.
Developing 100 new vaccines by 2025 was one of 25 commitments made by the world’s largest animal health companies in a Roadmap to Reducing the Need for Antibiotics, which was published in 2019 by industry association, HealthforAnimals.
According to a new progress report, the sector is on track or ahead of schedule across all its commitments, which included investing US$10 billion in research and development, and training more than 100 000 veterinarians in responsible antibiotic use.
Animal health companies are now considering ways to expand and add to these targets in the years ahead to accelerate progress in reducing the burden on antibiotics, the report said.
“The Roadmap is unique across the health industries for setting measurable targets and regular status updates on our efforts to address antibiotic resistance,” said Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, executive director of HealthforAnimals.
“Few, if any, have set these types of traceable goals and the progress to date shows how seriously animal health companies are taking our responsibility to tackle this collective challenge, which poses a threat to lives and livelihoods around the world.”
The new inoculations released in the past two years offer increased protection against diseases across many animal species including cattle, poultry, swine, fish as well as pets, and mean that the industry is halfway towards its vaccine target with four more years to go.
New vaccines are essential to reducing the risk of drug resistance developing by preventing diseases in animals that could otherwise lead to antibiotic treatment, such as salmonella, bovine respiratory disease and infectious bronchitis, and preserving vital medicines for both urgent human and animal use.
In addition to producing new vaccines, the industry has also launched a series of other preventative products that contribute to lower levels of livestock disease, minimising the need for antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Animal health companies produced 17 new diagnostic tools out of a target of 20 to help veterinarians prevent, identify and treat animal diseases earlier, as well as seven nutritional supplements that boost immune systems.
By comparison, the sector brought three new antibiotics to market in the same period, reflecting the increased investment in developing products that prevent illness and the need for antibiotics in the first place.
The sector also helped train more than 650 000 veterinary professionals and provided more than US$6,5 million in scholarships to veterinary students over the previous two years.
“Veterinarians understand that antimicrobial resistance is truly a ‘One Health’ challenge, and tackling it requires work across human and animal health sectors” said Dr Patricia Turner, president of the World Veterinary Association.
“The new tools and training provided by the animal health sector will support veterinarians and producers to reduce the need for antimicrobials in animals, which better safeguards people and the environment. We congratulate the animal health sector for the progress achieved to date towards reaching their Roadmap targets.”
The Roadmap for Reducing the Need for Antibiotics set out commitments to increase research and development, One Health approaches, communications, veterinary training and access, co-operation, and knowledge. The next progress report is expected in 2023.
The Roadmap to Reducing the Need for Antibiotics progress report is available online. – Press release, HealthforAnimals