Responsible versus rational use of antibiotics

Dopharma is 100% dedicated to livestock. Livestock farming is essential for a healthy and well-functioning society. In this rapidly changing world, we are constantly facing new challenges. One of those challenges is to ensure the future efficacy of antibiotics for animals as well as humans.

To achieve the above and thus continue to have sufficient effective products available, everyone in veterinary as well as human medicine needs to use antibiotics consciously. In order to stimulate interdisciplinary collaborations and communications between human and animal medicine, the ‘One Health’ concept has been launched. Synergism should lead to advanced health care that is ready for the 21st century and beyond.

Despite careful animal care, animals can still become ill and it must always remain possible to treat animals in case of illness. Veterinary medicinal products, including antibiotics, are vital to treat and control diseases. Every treatment with an antimicrobial product can potentially induce resistance and although antimicrobial resistance is not a new phenomenon, it is becoming a growing challenge that needs facing.

A lot has recently been written about the ‘responsible use of antibiotics’. In other publications ‘rational use of antibiotics’ is advocated. Both phrases are used simultaneously and are sometimes also mixed up. Below we set out what we mean when we use one or the other.

Responsible use of antibiotics

To keep antibiotics effective, they need to be used responsibly. Dopharma therefore fully endorses the ‘best practice’ thoughts of EPRUMA*. Best practice is the key to healthy animals and a healthy livestock sector. Healthy animals and a healthy livestock sector are in their turn essential for animal welfare, public health and optimum results for the farmer. Best practice includes good livestock practices and good veterinary practices (GVP).

Responsible use of antibiotics entails:

  • Usage in the right context.
  • Optimising preventative measures, such as hygiene, housing, climate, nutrition and animal health monitoring programs, is crucial. This must always be done before you start using veterinary medicinal products.
  • Use as little as possible, but as much as necessary.
  • Usage under veterinary prescription only.
  • Transparency.

* European Platform for the Responsible Use of Medicines in Animals

Rational use of antibiotics

Veterinary medicinal products, including antibiotics, also need to be used rationally. Every patient or flock should receive the treatment fitting their diagnosis, in doses that meet their requirements and for an adequate period of time.

Rational use of antibiotics is only possible if everyone involved has access to reliable and unbiased information.

Government, governing bodies, industry, etc.

  • Set out the overall strategy.
  • Authorise new veterinary medicinal products to ensure product availability.
  • Set up monitoring programs.
  • Advocate rational use.
  • Communication based on facts.

Veterinarians and their (national) representative bodies

  • Develop and update treatment guidelines and formularies.
  • Support and promote training programs on rational use of veterinary medicinal products.
  • Invest in keeping their veterinary and pharmacological knowledge up-to-date.
  • Always strive to get a proper diagnosis including sensitivity testing.


  • Take rational decisions regarding the treatment of the animals under your care based upon all available facts.
  • Give feedback regarding these treatments.