New rules to reduce risk of antimicrobial resistance come into force

News Release

November 14, 2017        Ottawa, Ontario        Health Canada

Antimicrobial-resistant infections are becoming more frequent and increasingly difficult to treat. While antimicrobial resistance (AMR) can occur naturally, the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in health care, animal health, food production, and sanitation increases the emergence and spread of resistance. When antimicrobials no longer work, they are no longer useful in treating infections in both humans and animals. Today, Health Canada announced the coming into force of two new rules that will better protect Canadians from the growing problem of AMR.

Antimicrobial drugs that are important to human health and used in food-producing animals may no longer be imported into Canada under the Own Use Importation policy. Going forward, only drugs that Health Canada has determined do not pose a risk to human health or food safety may be imported by livestock owners – and only in limited quantities.

A new program that will allow access to low-risk veterinary health products, such as vitamin and mineral supplements, for companion and food-producing animals has also been put in place to allow manufacturers to import and sell these products. Veterinary health products that pose a low risk to human health when used in food-producing animals and can be used to keep animals healthy may, in turn, reduce the need for antimicrobials.

Collectively, these changes demonstrate the Government of Canada’s continued commitment to promoting the responsible use of antimicrobials in animals.

Quick Facts

  • Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most serious global health threats facing the world today.  Antimicrobial-resistant infections are outpacing the development of new drugs, alternative therapies or tools, and are creating a serious challenge. It is estimated that by 2050, AMR could be responsible for the loss of 10 million lives annually.    

  • Antimicrobial drugs are among our strongest weapons against infections in both humans in animals. Using antimicrobial drugs appropriately is an important way to help reduce AMR.

  • The two initiatives that came into force today demonstrate Canada’s commitment to taking concrete action to counter the potentially devastating effects of the emergence and spread of AMR.

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