Antimicrobial research a priority for AVMA

Published on May 09, 2018

Antimicrobial resistance is a global threat, and the AVMA is advocating for development of new drugs that would help protect humans and animals.

The Association's revised research priorities, passed by the Board of Directors in April, added language describing the threat of antimicrobial resistance and expanded language on the need for antimicrobial agent development. New drugs should be created to combat diseases in humans, decreasing concerns about selection pressure associated with administering existing drugs to animals, it states.

Revisions to the research policy also added statements about the need to research how antimicrobial administration in agriculture affects antimicrobial resistance in surrounding environments and how to reduce that risk. Research is also needed on how changes in antimicrobial use affect farm animal welfare.

The overall policy states that the AVMA sees the following topics as research priorities: clinical developments that could improve animal health, infectious and zoonotic diseases, environmental issues, food security and safety, improved animal welfare and the human-animal bond, and human and animal disease. Training of veterinarians for research work is another priority.

Among revisions to the policy, the AVMA struck climate change from a list of factors that contribute to increased infectious disease emergence. Dr. Ed Murphey, assistant director of the AVMA Education and Research Division, said the Council on Research had received comments from other committees, especially the Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee, indicating some thought the term "climate change" was divisive and its inclusion could detract from the message that infectious disease emergence may increase.

Another revision to the policy replaced a 2012 figure that indicated the estimated cost of foodborne illness was $80 billion with an estimate that the economic burden is $113 billion. The policy now cites a 2010 article that indicates foodborne illnesses cost about $152 billion, and the council came to the $113 billion figure by subtracting $39 billion attributed to produce. The Council on Research proposed the change because the revision seemed to offer more perspective on the impact of foodborne illness, according to information provided by Dr. Murphey. But the council may revisit that change.

The AVMA also expanded a statement about use of animals in biomedical research to add that investigators should work to reduce pain and distress among animals used in research. Other added language states that the AVMA prioritizes implementing the one-health concept of cross-disciplinary clinical and scientific problem-solving.

In another vote, the Board members expanded the scope of the guidelines for antimicrobial use in companion animal practice. The policy now titled "Antimicrobial Use Guidelines for Veterinary Practice" expresses the Board's support for development of antimicrobial administration guidelines that can improve drug stewardship in veterinary practice.

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