The federal government is proposing new rules for veterinary drugs used in livestock as it works to reduce human health risks associated with resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobials.
Health Canada says the decreasing effectiveness of antimicrobials is having a significant impact on the government’s ability to protect Canadians from infectious diseases.
“The overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in animals is a contributing factor to the development and spread of AMR (antimicrobial-resistance),” reads a summary of the proposed rules.
“The development of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens in animals can pose serious risks to human health when they are transmitted as food-borne or water-borne contaminants. Antimicrobial-resistant infections are associated with a greater risk of death, more complex illnesses, longer hospital stays and higher treatment costs.”
The department says current regulations do not provide the necessary regulatory oversight to mitigate the risk.
The proposed changes would restrict the importation of some veterinary drugs used in livestock, require drug manufacturers to follow stricter rules regarding the quality of active ingredients and allow for increased monitoring of drug sales.
The department is seeking feedback on the proposals until Sept. 8.
The government says more than 75 per cent of antimicrobials sold in Canada are for use in animals, mainly to promote growth or to guard against disease and infection. About 1.6 million kilograms of antimicrobials were distributed for use in animals in 2013. Health Canada says the proposed changes will align Canada with policies in the United States and the European Union.