2022 Veterinary Antimicrobial Sales Highlights Report

Working towards the preservation of effective antimicrobials for humans and animals


The Veterinary Antimicrobial Sales Reporting (VASR) system data provides a comprehensive picture of medically important antimicrobials available for veterinary use in Canada and supports our overall antimicrobial resistance surveillance program and stewardship. Antimicrobials have been grouped according to their importance in human medicine, and this report reflects the integration, analysis and interpretation of submitted data. Trends in sales of antimicrobials may differ from trends in actual antimicrobial use for many reasons (e.g. not all antimicrobials sold are used within a calendar year) and data in this report where possible, should be considered along with end-user information on antimicrobial use and resistance. Unless specified, this document describes sales reported by manufacturers and importers, and excludes compounders to avoid double counting of sales.

For trends across years it is important to note that the first two years of data collection (2018 and 2019) overlap with the time of regulatory and policy changes implemented by Health Canada to promote the responsible use of antimicrobials in animals.

What's new

The VASR data are now available online as Interactive Data Visualizations. These visualizations include additional information and reflect the most recent updates to the data, which may differ from published reports.

Five years of data collection

The year 2022 marks the fifth annual sales report collected under the Regulations. Since 2018, through the collaborative efforts of Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, the VASR system has collected data from:

Overall, there has been a 9% decrease in the total kilograms (kg) of antimicrobials sold for use in all animals since 2018. When accounting for the number of animals and their weights using an average weight at treatment (mg/population correction unit or mg/PCUCA), there was an 11% decrease in the quantity of antimicrobials sold for use in animals in this time period. However, since 2019 the quantity of antimicrobials sold (after adjusting for biomass) has remained fairly stable.

Since the first year of data collection, there have been improvements observed in:

Comprehensive reporting from data providers are strengthening our understanding about the usage pattern for antimicrobials.

Key findings

Information on antimicrobials of importance to human medicine sold for use in animals

Compared to 2021, overall sales of antimicrobials for all animals decreased by 2.4% (24,560 kgs) in 2022 (Table 1). With regard to production animals (which includes food-producing animals and horses), there was a 1.7% decrease in the quantity of antimicrobials sold in mg/PCUCA and a 2.6% decrease in mg/kg biomass (which accounts for the number of animals and their weights at slaughter) in 2022. For cats and dogs, there was a 3.8% decrease in the quantity of antimicrobials sold in mg/PCUCA.

Table 1. Trends in antimicrobial sales for all animals in kilograms and in milligrams adjusted for animal numbers and weights (population correction unit)
Year Kilograms mg/PCUCA
2018 1,104,339 148.9
2019 983,264 130.0
2020 1,046,285 138.9
2021 1,029,716 134.9
2022 1,005,157 132.6
PCUCA = population correction unit, equal to the number of animals multiplied by their standard Canadian average weight at treatment; mg/PCUCA = milligrams per Canadian population correction unit. 1 PCUCA =1 kg animal

The percentage of sales by manufacturers slightly decreased from 97% in 2021 to 96% in 2022, while the percentage of sales by importers slightly increased from 3% in 2021 to 4% in 2022. Top classes of antimicrobials sold by manufacturers in 2022 were the tetracyclines, macrolides, penicillins, bacitracins and sulfonamides. The top antimicrobial class sold by importers was sulfonamides (94% of total sales by importers). Antimicrobial classes that had the largest increase in sales (kg) by both manufacturers and importers between 2021 and 2022 were the sulfonamides, orthosomycins, diaminopyrimidine-sulfonamide combinations and macrolides.

In 2022, the percentage of total sales (in kg) by Category of Importance to Human Medicine was:

Between 2021 and 2022, the percent change in the quantity of sales (in kg) was:

In 2022, reporting by compounders represented 6% (a decrease of 2% since 2018, and stable since 2021) of the total kilograms of antimicrobials sold. The total kilograms of antimicrobials sold by compounders in 2022 was approximately 70,000 kg (an increase of ~5,500 kg since 2021 and an increase of ~ 8,000 kg since 2020). Most antimicrobials sold by compounders were Category II antimicrobials (98% of kg sold). The top classes reported by compounders were diaminopyrimidine-sulfonamide combinations, penicillins and aminoglycosides. On average in 2022, 88% of the total kilograms reported to be compounded were for use in pigs.

Animal species information

Similar to 2021, the bulk (kg) of antimicrobials sold in 2022 were intended for use in pigs (~ 539,000 kg, 296 mg/PCUCA), cattle (~ 311,000 kg, 75 mg/PCUCA) and poultry (~ 99,000 kg, 128 mg/PCUCA). Sales for use in beef cattle represented 89% of total sales for cattle (in kg), while sales for dairy and veal represented 8% and 3% (in kg), respectively. There was reported sales of antimicrobials (tetracyclines) for use in honey bees in 2022, indicating better species-level reporting.

Between 2021 and 2022, the percent change in the quantity of sales was:

Between 2021 and 2022, Category I antimicrobial sales in:

Information on route of administration

Since 2018, the majority of sales by route of administration (about 92%) were intended for use via feed or water. In 2022, the overall breakdown of sales by route of administration was:

Since 2020, sales for use in feed (in kg) decreased by 4%, sales for use in water decreased by 17%, sales for other oral use increased by 10% and sales for use by injection and intramammary sales remained stable (less than 1% change). Sales for use by other routes of administration increased by 84% (mostly due to importing of active pharmaceutical ingredients where the final formulation of the product is likely unknown and attributed to "other routes").

Regional information

The largest quantity of antimicrobials sold in 2022 for use in animals (in kg) by manufacturers and importers were reported to be in Ontario, Alberta, Québec and Manitoba, which are the major food animal-producing provinces. Provincial biomass estimates will soon be available to contextualize provincial sales.

Compared to 2021, sales (in kg) decreased in Manitoba, Ontario, the Atlantic provinces and the Territories/Nunavut, and increased in Alberta, British Columbia, Québec and Saskatchewan. In 2022, most of the quantities of antimicrobials reported to be compounded for use in animals (in kg) were in Québec (60%), followed by Ontario (29%) and Manitoba (5%). There may be subsequent distribution of antimicrobials across provincial borders after being compounded, hence caution should be applied when interpreting the provincial quantities of compounded antimicrobials.

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