Dutch Sales of Veterinary Antibiotics Decline 51% in Three Years

Dutch sales of antibiotics for use in livestock fell 51 percent in the first half of 2012 compared with the same period three years ago, amid a government push to cut veterinary use of antimicrobial drugs.

“We’re pleased with these promising results,” Agriculture Minister Co Verdaas and Health Minister Edith Schippers wrote in a letter to parliament today. “This indicates that the reduction goal of 50 percent set for 2013 may already be achieved in 2012.”

Sales of antibiotics in the Netherlands for use in animal husbandry fell to an estimated 244 metric tons in the first six months of the year, compared to 495 tons in the 2009 reference period, according to data from Wageningen University.

The Dutch government has set a target to cut antibiotics use in farm animals by 50 percent next year compared with the 2009 level to address bacterial resistance. The Netherlands had one of the highest rates of veterinary use of antibiotics in Europe in 2010, government data show.

The Netherlands ranked fifth out of 20 European countries in 2010 in terms of antibiotic sales for use in farm animals, using harmonized data, according to the letter. Only Hungary, Spain, Belgium and Portugal had higher sales, while Dutch sales of veterinary antibiotics were 10 percent higher than those in France, about double the level in the U.K. and 90 percent higher than in Sweden.

First-half sales of “critical” antibiotics of the fluoroquinolone variety fell 23 percent from three years ago, while sales of third- and fourth-generation cephalosporin antibiotics fell 92 percent, the ministers wrote.

The Netherlands has the highest density of hogs and cattle of the 27 countries in the European Union, with about 291 pigs and 77 cows per square kilometer (0.4 square mile), based on Eurostat data.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Deane at jdeane3@bloomberg.net

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