Equines, Education and Experts

Dear Colleagues,

It’s been said that the livin’ is easy in the summertime. But things certainly haven’t slowed down here at the AVMA these past few weeks.

From planning and preparing for our annual convention, which begins this week, to meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and testifying before Congress, the AVMA is just as busy as ever. Among other things, we’re out there providing continuing education to our members and working with federal officials to advance the veterinary profession and protect animal and human health.

Our 145th Annual Convention starts Saturday in New Orleans, and we expect thousands of veterinarians to enjoy quality CE, networking with colleagues and even a little fun in The Big Easy. If you’re planning to attend, we’re sure you’ll come away with a deeper knowledge of what interests you and a few memories of time spent with old friends and new. If we won’t be seeing you this year, start thinking now about attending our 2009 Annual Convention, which will be held in The Emerald City of Seattle, July 11 – July 14.

Equine medicine is just one of the many topics that will be covered among the 1,000 educational sessions in New Orleans, and growing concerns about the inappropriate use of compounded drugs in equine care is also a hot topic with the AVMA, the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Elizabeth Curry-Galvin, director of our Scientific Activities Division, and Dr. Angela Demaree, an assistant director with the Governmental Relations Division, joined AAEP representatives in Rockville, Maryland, recently to discuss compounding with officials at the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine. They were there to address what appears to be an increase in the number of solicitations veterinarians are receiving to buy compounded drugs at cheaper prices and the potential risks of using these products, many of which are “mimics” of approved products.

While the AVMA, AAEP and FDA are continuing to develop ways to better educate veterinarians about compounding, as well as the importance of using FDA-approved drugs when they are available, the AVMA and AAEP are making a push at the association level to get more information into the hands of their members. The AVMA will be distributing compounding information during our convention this month, and the AAEP will be doing the same during its winter meeting later in ’08.

When it comes to animal and human health, few topics are generating as much recent attention as antimicrobial resistance in livestock and the emergence of resistant “super bugs” in people. In an attempt to mollify concerns that the use of antimicrobials – such as penicillin and tetracycline – in food animals leads to human resistance to the drugs, Dr. Lyle Vogel, AVMA’s assistant executive vice president, testified before a Congressional committee to address the preventive use of antimicrobials in food animals and to reiterate the necessity of antibiotic use in livestock for ensuring food safety.

Dr. Vogel made it clear that protecting human health is paramount to America’s veterinarians. He went on to say that scientific data does not support a ban on the preventive use of these antibiotics, and he described how antibiotic resistance in some instances is 10 times greater in Denmark than in the United States, despite a Danish ban since the 1990s on some uses of the drugs.

Speaking of food animals, Drs. Heather Case and Christine Hoang of the Scientific Activities Division recently presented the first of two AVMA Webinars to members of the National Association of Agricultural Educators. The Webinar was in response to requests by many of the 8,000 NAAE members for information on the role of veterinarians in food safety and supply. More than 30 high school teachers attended the Webinar and gave it high marks for material they can integrate into their classroom lectures and assignments. Comments such as “Great information,” “Material was interesting” and “Good example of the importance of vet science in protecting the food supply” resulted in an invitation to repeat the program as a workshop during the NAAE convention in December.

We’ll host a second Webinar for NAAE this September, when the topic will be animal welfare. Animal Welfare Division Director Dr. Gail Golab is developing the content and will be the primary presenter. These Webinars are excellent examples of AVMA outreach to organizations that can help the profession address workforce shortages by influencing the current generation of students in pursuing veterinary careers.

Reaching out to the public about veterinary medicine is a vital cog in our efforts to spread news – and share veterinary expertise. As we try to reach new audiences, we are turning to social media and the Internet to spread our message. We recently launched our first in a series of podcasts geared toward pet owners. Dubbed AVMA Animal Tracks, the series features veterinary experts from around the country discussing topics such as pet health and safety tips, the threat of zoonotic diseases and the surprising variety of roles veterinarians play in ensuring animal and human health.

The first podcast features Dr. Kimberly May, assistant director of professional and public affairs in the AVMA Communications Division, talking about pet safety tips for the summer. We also produced a timely podcast about fireworks and pets with former AVMA President Dr. Bonnie Beaver. The podcasts are available online at www.avma.org/news/info_rss.asp. If you are interested in providing your expertise for a future podcast, or if you have ideas for us, contact Michael San Filippo at msanfilippo@avma.org.

In closing, it’s time for me to get back to the family of patients and clients back home in Dover, Delaware, that I have grown to miss so much. This will be my last opportunity to communicate with you, our loyal readers of AVMA@Work, as president of this association. My term ends this month at our convention, and Dr. James Cook, a respected colleague, will take the reins for 2008-09. My work here, however, is far from finished. As immediate past president, I will continue to assist the AVMA in advancing the veterinary profession in any way I can. And you can rest assured that my commitment to bolstering the veterinary workforce through federal legislation will not fade.

I will continue to support legislation that shores up our ranks and allows for veterinarians to remain one of the most respected professions. But before I sign off, I want to once again urge you to get involved in organized veterinary medicine and to let your voice be heard both locally and nationally when it comes to issues that affect our profession. Action begins from the ground up, and each of us truly can make a difference.

Take action to preserve the human-animal bond. Take action to strengthen the workforce. And take action to protect the health of animals and people.

Sincerely,

Hammer signature DeHaven signature
Gregory S. Hammer, DVM
President
W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA
Executive Vice President

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