The Russian government plans to delay the enforcement of stricter rules on feed antibiotics usage, according to a draft law published on a government website.
Russia approved a new policy on the feed antibiotics market in 2021, under which the production and sale of feed with antimicrobial agents would require a prescription or a special requirement issued by an authorised veterinary specialist.
In a separate decree, the Russian Agricultural Ministry approved the list of antibiotics subjected to the new rules. It included some of the most commonly used drugs in the Russian livestock industry, including spectinomycin, novobiocin, florfenicol, trimethoprim, methenamine, benzylpenicillin, cloxacillin, nafcillin and others.
The law also introduced tighter rules for the production of feed with antimicrobial agents at livestock farms, which is a common practice in Russia. In order to add antibiotics to feed, farmers would require a special pharmaceutical license.
The new rules were slated to come into force on March 1, 2023. However, the recently published draft postponed it for 2 years to March 1, 2025.
The decision to postpone the new law was made during a meeting of a working group on the regulatory guillotine – a mechanism used in the country to rapidly review a large number of regulations and eliminate those that are not needed. The Ministry said it supported the decision.
In 2021, the bill was backed by several business groups, regulators and the Russian healthcare community voiced concerns over a growing threat of antimicrobial resistance and superbugs. The environmentalists believe that feed antibiotics usage in Russia could be cut down tremendously, as these substances are still frequently applied for prophylactic purposes.
Russian farmers can use antibiotics in unlimited quantities, not restricted by the existing regulations. The Russian veterinary standards only prescribe that no antibiotics residues above the allowed limits must be found in the finished products. However, the control is far from perfect even in this field, as only a limited number of feed antibiotics are subject to state control.
In addition, there is no official statistical data indicating how much antibiotics are used at Russian farms. The Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor warned in 2021 that there was a problem of uncontrolled and intensive use of antibiotics in agriculture in Russia. Besides, sometimes antibiotics in Russia were said to be used to stimulate the growth and productivity of livestock, Rosselkhoznadzor admitted.