Fresh “Awareness Day” warnings on rising levels of antibiotic resistance

Promoting the prudent use of antibiotics in both human and veterinary medicine must be addressed by all relevant parties and stakeholders if real progress is to be made says one of the European Commission’s top health officials.

Speaking on the eve of European Antibiotic Awareness Day (November 18), the Director General of DG Health & Consumers, Testori Coggi, said that a comprehensive approach was needed, to “successfully address antimicrobial resistance”

Urging all parties to combine in tackling the problem, she said there could be no “hierarchy of action” between human and veterinary interests as all aspects of current resistance were interrelated.

Mrs Coggi’s comments followed the release of new EU-wide data on antibiotic resistance by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), revealing that over the last four years there has been a “significant increasing trend of combined resistance to multiple antibiotics in both Klebsiella pneumoniae and E. coli in more than one-third of the EU/EEA countries”. 

“Antibiotic resistance is still a very serious threat to the health of European citizens, because it leads to increasing healthcare costs, extra length of stay in the hospital, treatment failures, and sometimes death,” said ECDC director, Marc Sprenger.

His report did include a positive update on MRSA, however, which he said had recently shown “either a decrease or a stabilisation in most EU countries”.

“Nevertheless, we must remain vigilant, as the percentage of MRSA remains above 25% in more than one fourth of the reporting countries, mainly in Southern and Eastern Europe,” he added.

The European Commission’s Director-General for Research & Innovation, Robert-Jan Smits, commented that the “worrying growth” of antibiotic resistance identified by ECDC, highlighted the need for a dedicated research effort to be applied to the problem, building on the large sum of money which had already been spent on research into antimicrobial resistance.

“We are working together with EU member states and the industry to use existing antimicrobials more intelligently and to develop urgently needed new antibiotics,” he said. 

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