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EU scientific opinion: how to assess progress on reduction of antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial consumption

MRSA bacteria

A set of indicators will assist European Union (EU) Member States to assess their progress in reducing the use of antimicrobials and combatting antimicrobial resistance The ability of microbes to grow in the presence of substances specifically designed to kill them; for example, some human infections are now resistant to antibiotics, raising concerns about their widespread use.. These indicators have been established by the European Food Safety Authority, the European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, following a request from the European Commission.

The indicators address both the human and animal sectors and they reflect antimicrobial consumption and antimicrobial resistance in the community, in hospitals and in food-producing animals. The indicators are based on data already gathered through existing EU monitoring networks.

Examples of indicators to assess antimicrobial resistance in human medicine include the proportion of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that are resistant to meticillin (MRSA) and the proportion Escherichia coli (E.coli) bacteria that are resistant to third-generation cephalosporins. These two pathogens are of major public health importance. For veterinary medicine, an example indicator is the proportion of E. coli bacteria from food-producing animals that are susceptible or resistant to a number of antimicrobials. In terms of consumption, the suggested primary indicators are the human consumption of antimicrobials, and the overall sales of veterinary antimicrobials.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “When I presented the new EU Action Plan on AMR back in June, I promised that before the end of the year the Commission would define indicators to measure the progress of the EU and national action plans. I therefore very much welcome the Scientific Opinion prepared by ECDC, EMA and EFSA, setting out indicators that address both the human and animal sectors, in line with the EU Action Plan's One Health approach. Without these indicators we would not be able to assess our progress in tackling the serious health threat posed by AMR”.

The indicators, presented in the form of a scientific opinion Opinions include risk assessments on general scientific issues, evaluations of an application for the authorisation of a product, substance or claim, or an evaluation of a risk assessment., are the result of close cooperation between the three EU agencies, each drawing on their specific expertise and data from monitoring of antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial consumption in animals and humans.

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