25,000 patients die every year from infections caused by drug resistant bacteria and related costs of over 1.5 billion euros in healthcare expenses and productivity losses, according to the Europea Commission.

The new EU Action plan unveils twelve actions to be undertaken in the next five years. They cover seven areas:

1. Making sure antimicrobials are used appropriately both in humans and animals

2. Preventing microbial infections and their spread

3. Developing new effective antimicrobials or alternatives for treatment

4. Cooperating with international partners to contain the risks of AMR

5. Improving monitoring and surveillance in human and animal medicine

6. Research and Innovation

7. Communication, Education and Training

Twelve actions

The proposal also sets out 12 concrete actions to:

1. Improve awareness raising on the appropriate use of antimicrobials

2. Strengthen EU law on veterinary medicines and on medicated feed

3. Introduce recommendations for prudent use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine, including follow-up reports

4. Strengthen infection prevention and control in hospitals, clinics, etc.

5. Introduce legal tools to tighten prevention and control of infections in animals in the new EU Animal Health Law

6. Promote unprecedented collaboration to bring new antimicrobials to patients

7. Promote efforts to analyse the need for new antibiotics in veterinary medicine

8. Develop and/or strengthen multilateral and bilateral commitments for the prevention and control of AMR

9. Strengthen surveillance systems on AMR and antimicrobial consumption in human medicines

10. Strengthen surveillance systems on AMR and antimicrobial consumption in animal medicines

11. Reinforce and co-ordinate research

12. Improve communication on AMR to the public.

In addition, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published newest data on antibiotic resistance showing that resistance to last-line antibiotics is increasing in Europe.

- EPHA’s briefing on health threats from communicable diseases,
- EPHA response to the Commission consultation on health security in Europe) EPHA will follow the implementation of this Action Plan. An EPHA briefing on the issue is also planned for 2012.

European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2011

EPHA attended the panel discussion, ‘’’European Initiatives to Keep Antibiotics Working’’.

Apart from ECDC Director Marc Sprenger, the discussion panel included Paola Testori Coggi, Director General of DG SANCO, Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, Director of the Health Directorate in DG Research & Innovation, Richard Bergström, Director General of EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations), as well as AMR researchers from Poland and Denmark.

All agreed that more strategic cooperation on AMR is urgently needed, and Sprenger stressed the goal of this year’s EAAD which focused on supporting national campaigns promoting more prudent use of antibiotics and hand hygiene. He said there was a clear link between oversubscription and (mis)use of antibiotics and the increase in resistant bacteria. The need for more investment in Research & Development and for more scientific data as a basis for action was also pointed out.

Notably, Mr. Bergström affirmed that the pharma industry was in the process of ‘’rethinking its relationship with consumers and researchers’’ as the AMR challenge forced them to work differently in the struggle to use resources more efficiently.

Commissioner Dalli referred to AMR as one of the biggest public health risks that Europe is facing today.

For further information

- European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2011 - ECDC website

EPHA related articles

- European Parliament stance on antimicrobial resistance
- Antibiotic resistance is "major public health threat"
- PGEU statements on cancer, H1N1 pandemic influenza and antimicrobial resistance
- A strong call for antibiotic stewardship

Last modified on December 13 2011.