S&Ds lead the Parliament’s call for an effective use of antibiotics to avoid antimicrobial resistance


Health & Consumers
Today, the plenary of the European Parliament will debate an own initiative report drafted by S&D MEP Karin Kadenbach welcoming the European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance* (AMR) but calling for further action. This report, to be voted on tomorrow, demands a coordinated approach to avoid the dangerous trend by which excessive use of antibiotics both in humans and livestock render them ineffective when they are really needed.
S&D MEP Karin Kadenbach said:
“Right now half of antibiotic prescriptions written for humans are ineffective. The misuse of antibiotics is eroding their efficacy resulting in 25,000 deaths in the EU every year. If we don’t act fast, we risk the return of a ‘pre-antibiotics/penicillin’ age. The consequences might be that lung infections, for example, would again be fatal, the risk factor for routine operations would increase and treatments such as chemotherapy, which suppress the immune system, would become too dangerous for patients.
“There are several reasons for that: unprofessional application of antibiotics, both in human medicine (e.g. to treat viral infections, against which they are not effective) and in animal treatment (prophylaxis); transfer of resistant bacteria from animals to humans through direct contact or via the food chain; improper disposal of unused medicines into the groundwater; and inadequate development of new antibiotics. We want a comprehensive strategy to address all these factors.
“For humans, we want medical diagnoses supported by rapid tests, which show whether the cause of an infection is viral or bacterial and whether antibiotics should be used at all. These tests are, however, currently not fully developed, and are often more expensive than many antibiotics. They are therefore a burden on health insurance schemes – even though resistance to antibiotics is far more costly for the health system in the long term.
“Regarding animals, we want to phase out the routine use of antimicrobials in groups of farm animals, so that they are only used when an animal shows signs of infection.”
S&D spokesperson on health, Miriam Dalli MEP, said:
“Modern medicine has secured the healing of several lethal infections and made surgical interventions more secure, but with the development of antimicrobial resistance common infections have started to become fatal once again. If we do not act now, we risk the return of a ‘pre-antibiotics’ age. This means that even infections such as lung infections risk becoming fatal again.
"There are different factors as to how we got here, but it is more shocking to see that 65,000 tons – two-third of all antibiotics produced globally – are used for animals every year. Humans - through the consumption of milk and meat and the contamination of the environment, soil and drinking water - end up consuming these antibiotics as well.
"The European Commission and member states need to act now.”
* ‘Antimicrobial resistance’ is the resistance to drugs of infections which are triggered not only by bacteria but also by other microbes such as parasites, viruses and fungi.