September 7, 2020


Germany's use of antibiotics for animal health drops -7.2% in 2019


The number of antibiotics used in veterinary medicine in Germany has fallen to 670 tonnes (-7.2%) in 2019 compared to 2018, according the country's Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL).

The drop resulted in the lowest level of antibiotics used in that context since the first recording in 2011 with 1,706 tonnes. It also corresponds to a 60.7% decline during this period. The quantity of fluoroquinolones and third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins, which are particularly crucial for human health, fell to their lowest level since 2011.

Compared with the previous year, the quantity of fluoroquinolones dispensed fell by approximately 1.7 tonnes, and that of third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins dropped by 0.5 tonnes. It can be assumed that the changes in the Veterinary Medicine Ordinance (TÄHAV) are partly responsible for this. Since March 1, 2018, the TÄHAV has stipulated that a sensitivity test for bacteria must be carried out according to standardised procedures when using third- and fourth-generation fluoroquinolones and cephalosporins. This test allows a conclusion to be made as to whether the intended antibiotic can be effective at all.

A total of 670 tonnes of antibiotics were supplied to veterinarians in Germany by pharmaceutical companies and wholesalers last year. As in past years, the main quantities supplied were penicillins (about 264 tonnes) and tetracyclines (about 140 tonnes), followed by polypeptide antibiotics (colistin, 66 tonnes) and sulfonamides (59 tonnes) as well as macrolides (57 tonnes). All classes of antibiotics classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as special importance for human medicine (Highest Priority Critically Important Antimicrobials) were reduced compared to the previous year (third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins, -0.5 tonnes; fluoroquinols, -1.7 tonnes; macrolides, -two tonnes; polypeptide antibiotics, -8 tonnes).

The reported quantities of active substances cannot be assigned to individual animal species, as the majority of the active substances are approved for use in different animal species.

From 2011 to 2019, the quantity of antibiotics dispensed decreased in almost all regions in Germany.