The Member States shall do more to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

UM – 05/2023

As part of the pharmaceutical package presented by the European Commission at the end of April, the Member States have also been asked to do more to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Antimicrobial resistance is responsible for more than 35,000 deaths in the European Economic Area.

The focus is on the human sector

By its proposal for a Council Recommendation (COM(2023) 191 final), the European Commission aims to address the fight against the emergence of antimicrobial resistance within the framework of the consistent "One Health" approach. Since measures to improve the situation in the veterinary sector have already been initiated in the course of other European strategies, it is now time to deal with the area of human health. In addition, the environment must also be given greater attention. In the meantime, there is more and more evidence that drivers of drug resistance are lurking here. Be it in waste water or in agricultural soils.

A European Council Recommendation is the right instrument to ensure that the Member States follow suit. The fight against AMR can only succeed if we work together, said Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission, at the presentation of the pharmaceutical package on 26 April.

Action plans to be improved

In terms of content, the European Commission proposes to the Member States to better monitor the development of resistance and the consumption of antibiotics and to work towards more responsible use of antimicrobial agents ("antimicrobial stewardship") in addition to infection prevention and control. The prerequisite for this is to broaden the knowledge base and to sensitise and educate people, be they patients or health professionals. All Member States now have action plans to tackle AMR. However, they differ considerably in terms of content and scope.

Targets for reducing antibiotic consumption

In order to limit resistance and consumption of medicinal products, a list has been attached to the draft Council Recommendation, which contains, among other things, target values for the total consumption of antibiotics and targets for their reduction. In Germany, for example, the consumption of antibiotics in primary healthcare facilities, including hospitals and inpatient care facilities is to be reduced by 9 per cent by 2030. EEA-wide, the figure is as high as 20 per cent. There is also a need for action here. About 70 per cent of all cases of infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria are therapy-associated.

Global players wanted

In conclusion: The countries should also become more involved at the international level. Here, the European Commission's proposal aims at improved standards and guidelines for the use of antimicrobial agents and anchoring the topic of AMR in international conventions of the WHO or at the G7 and G20. In addition, development capacities are to be provided in low- and middle-income countries and measures against antimicrobial resistance are to be promoted. The European Commission intends to present an implementation report four years after the adoption of the Council Recommendation by the Council of Ministers.