September 01, 2009


 Antimicrobial use task force to be convened

Posted Aug. 15, 2009

The AVMA House of Delegates recommended, and the Executive Board approved, the creation of a multidisciplinary group to review the Association's "Judicious Therapeutic Use of Antimicrobials" policy.

Delegates also asked that the group, to be fashioned after the former Steering Committee on Judicious Therapeutic Antimicrobial Use, consider revising the policy to clarify the role of veterinarians in this area.

And finally, they requested that the Executive Board provide the group's recommendation to the HOD for final consideration no later than the 2010 regular annual session.

The recommendation was prompted by Resolution 3, considered by the HOD during its regular annual session July 10 in Seattle. The proposal would have removed the words "when under the direction of a veterinarian" from the following statement in the AVMA policy: "Judicious use of antimicrobials, when under the direction of a veterinarian, should meet all requirements of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship."

On July 14, the Executive Board approved a recommendation from the Office of the Executive Vice President to convene an Antimicrobial Use Task Force as envisioned by the HOD. The action broadens the group's charge to address the role of veterinarians in all uses of antimicrobials, including growth promotion and feed efficiency, and to evaluate all AVMA policies that may be affected.

In addition, the task force will look at the advisability of allowing antimicrobials to be sold over the counter versus by prescription only, or whether there is an in-between option.

The board directed the task force to submit its recommendation to the board by April 2010.

Resolution 3 was submitted by the New Jersey VMA, Association of Avian Veterinarians, and Washington State VMA. In the background information for the resolution, the sponsoring groups explained that, as organizational policy, the AVMA should have the clearly stated, unequivocal concept that veterinarians are the gatekeepers and decision makers regarding judicious use of antimicrobials.

Dr. Robert J. Gordon, the New Jersey delegate, had encouraged the HOD to defeat the recommendation for referral of the resolution to the board, to support it, and to put the measure to a vote. The resolution, Dr. Gordon said, would make the policy consistent with other AVMA policies concerning a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

He also noted that the recommendation the HOD ultimately sent to the board proposes a major undertaking that is unlikely to be completed within a year.

Congress is looking seriously at the issue of antimicrobial use in livestock and whether the drugs' availability should be limited to reduce antimicrobial resistance in humans. See "FDA backs legislation to restrict antimicrobial use" here for details.