France restrains the use of antibiotics of critical importance
Through the promulgation of a decree and an order, France has established a list of antibiotic substances of critical importance, as well as the conditions of prescription and delivery of drugs containing one or several of these substances and the approved methods to determine the antibiotic sensitivity of bacterial strains.
Last March, the French governent published the Decree 2016-31, of 16 March, regarding the prescription and delivery of drugs used in veterinary medicine containing one or several antibiotic substances of critical importance. The government also published the Order of 18 March, which establishes the list of antibiotic substances of critical importance and the approved methods to determine the antibiotic sensitivity of bacterial strains.
Both regulations, which came into force last 1 April, involve a modification of the therapeutic arsenal available to veterinary surgeons, since more than 50 antibiotic substances have been banned or have had their use restricted.
The preventive use of drugs containing one or several of the antibiotic substances of critical importance listed in the order has been prohibited in veterinary medicine. For other purposes, such as curative or metaphylactic purposes, these substances have also been banned or may be prescribed under a series of conditions: a clinical examination must be performed and laboratory test results must demonstrate that the identified bacterial strains are only sensitive to antibiotics of critical importance.
Regarding metaphylaxis, the French legislation indicates that only veterinary surgeons shall be able to prescribe a metaphylactic treatment with a drug containing one or more antibiotic substances of critical importance if they suspect a disease with high morbidity and mortality rates that would unavoidably spread between animals in the absence of early treatment. Veterinary surgeons must justify this treatment by means of a clinical examination or necropsy and the duration of the treatment must not exceed one month.
The French law also requires the prescription of drugs containing one or several antibiotic substances of critical importance to be subject to a previous clinical examination by the prescribing veterinary surgeon or to a post-mortem examination performed at their request, as well as to an analysis of the epidemiological context. In addition, it is necessary to carry out, whenever possible, a complementary test to identify the bacterial strain responsible for the infection from a sample taken from one or several live or dead animals, and to demonstrate the sensitivity of the bacterial strain to this antibiotic only with a sensitivity test performed according to one of the approved methods.