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Antimicrobial resistance: American Veterinary Medical Association takes steps to address a critical

Wednesday, January 10, 2018  
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The American Veterinary Medical Association is pleased to share that it has adopted, as policy, a Definition of Antimicrobial Stewardship and accompanying Core Principles of Antimicrobial Stewardship in Veterinary Medicine. A copy of this policy is attached for your reference. Its adoption is a first step in fulfillment of the AVMA’s commitment to provide resources and tools for veterinarians that support conscientious decision-making in the use of antimicrobials. Judicious use is the best way to ensure veterinarians’ continued access to medications that are important to protecting the good health and wellbeing of our animal patients.


While references to “antimicrobial stewardship” are common, a clear, concise, and broadly accepted description of what this means has been lacking. A shared understanding of stewardship—supported by core principles to achieve it—is critical as this provides a foundation for the adoption of best practices that preserve the effectiveness of antimicrobials for animals and for people.


The five core principles adopted by the AVMA on behalf of its members include:

  • A clearly stated commitment by veterinarians to stewardship;
  • Support for systems of care that include a multi-pronged approach to preventing common diseases;
  • Judicious selection and use of antimicrobial drugs;
  • Ongoing evaluation of the efficacy of antimicrobial drug-use practices; and
  • A commitment to professional education and research that expands the profession’s knowledge base and supports good decision-making.


The definition and core principles were developed by the AVMA’s Committee on Antimicrobials, which comprises individuals representing a diverse array of veterinary organizational, species, and practice interests. The policy was subsequently reviewed and approved by the AVMA’s House of Delegates, which includes representation from all 50 states, the nation’s territories, and the AVMA’s allied veterinary associations. AVMA members can be assured that their interests were represented as the policy was developed. Furthermore, the association’s members and stakeholders can be confident that its content represents the consensus of the veterinary profession.


In addition to providing guidance for the veterinary profession, the Committee on Antimicrobials recognizes that only a One Health approach is likely to effectively mitigate the development of antimicrobial resistance. Accordingly, those reviewing the AVMA’s new policy will see parallels between it and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Core Elements of Outpatient Antibiotic Stewardship Programs,” which provide a similar framework for antibiotic stewardship for outpatient clinicians and facilities that routinely use antibiotics as part of their treatment paradigms in human medicine. By building on parallel goals, the Committee hopes to encourage and support better collaboration between veterinary and human medicine. 


The AVMA, advised by the CoA, looks forward to continuing its work on responsible antimicrobial use and combatting resistance for the betterment of animal health and welfare, and public health. Next up is the development of resources that will help individual veterinarians and our allied veterinary organizations best utilize this new policy as they develop their practice stewardship plans.


The AVMA is proud of its ongoing commitment to promote antimicrobial stewardship, and we thank all who continue to work collaboratively with us in these efforts. If you have questions regarding the new policy, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Michael Costin, Assistant Director, Division of Animal and Public Health, at 847-285-6634 or

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