The veterinary and medical profession have been under a lot of pressure in recent years to use as few antibiotics as possible and use them responsibly (right dose for right length of time, correct antibiotic for the condition being treated etc). Most of the drive for this change has come from Europe. In England, veterinary antibiotic use has come under scrutiny, not necessarily justified on the evidence.
Veterinary antibiotics are controlled by various means, they have to be on prescription, we have to have the patient under our care, which means we have to see your pet regularly to check dose, effectiveness, weight, (if a 20kg dog puts on 3kg this is an increase in weight of 15% which can affect the dose).
Now, whilst on holiday in Italy this summer we had to get some antibiotics for one of our group. We took the teenage girl who had been on Erythromycin (not one of the more common antibiotics) from a UK GP’s prescription to a local chemist. We had an old empty blister pack of the pills and presented this to the pharmacist who spoke little English and we spoke little Italian. A long ‘conversation’ ensued which ended up with us walking away with the same drug, but a different strength pill, the pharmacist not having seen a prescription, the girls complaint or referred to any doctor.
Although we got what we wanted, if we are to make sure antibiotics are used in a way which minimises the risk of resistance and ensures they are only used where appropriate then controls need to be tightened all across Europe in both the human and veterinary fields.