U.S. animal health companies met increased demand for medicine to treat and control animal disease in 2005, according to a survey of member companies of the Animal Health Institute (AHI).

The survey also showed that the amount of antibiotics produced to maintain animal health and promote growth dropped again. Total production for use in animals rose 12.3%.

“With many examples in recent years of the connection between animal health and human health, animal health companies play a vital role in protecting human health by keeping animals healthy,” says AHI President and CEO Alexander S. Mathews.

The Institute of Food Technologists issued a report recently describing the key role antibiotics play in food safety. “Some evidence is accumulating, especially in the poultry industry, that there are significant human health benefits from antibiotic use to prevent or control food animal disease,” the report says.

Two classes of compounds account for the increase in use of antibiotics. Ionophores are compounds not used in human medicine. Tetracyclines are undergoing a review by the Food and Drug Administration under Guidance 152, a qualitative risk assessment for proposed and currently approved antibiotics.

In 2005, 24.4 million pounds of antibiotics were sold for use in farm and companion animals, compared to 21.7 million pounds sold in 2004. The amount used to maintain animal health and enhance growth dropped from 5.4% the previous year to 4.5% in 2005.

“It appears that we are observing the same trend in the United States that we have seen in Europe,” says Mathews. “As the amount used for growth declines, the amount of antibiotics used to treat sick animals increases.”