(CN) – EU legislators expressed concern about the rising threat of antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance in human and animal populations, calling the situation “a growing European and global health problem.”
In a six-page document released Friday, the Council of the European Union called on member states to develop and implement national strategies or action plans for countering antimicrobial resistance (AMR), primarily through the reduced use of antibiotics and antimicrobial agents. The plan also orders European countries to enforce laws prohibiting the illegal sale of antibiotics, limit the use of critically important antimicrobials to acute illnesses and to curtail the use of the drugs as preventative measures.
“The Council of the European Union recognizes that the development of AMR is accelerated by excessive and inappropriate use of antimicrobial agents which, together with poor hygiene or poor infection control practices, creates favorable conditions for the development, spread and persistence of resistant microorganisms in both humans and animals,” the council said, also underlining the need for making all antimicrobial agents available by prescription only.
The council said it also recognized that “some practices in human and in animal healthcare including the possible incentives deriving from the prescription and subsequent sale of antimicrobial agents may lead to inappropriate use and overuse of antimicrobial agents,” and ordered member states to transmit data on prescription and sales of all antibiotics to surveillance systems already in place.
The council also asked the EU Commission to develop a classification of antimicrobials, including a specific list that are essential in treating infections caused by multiresistant organisms. The lawmakers urged the commission to limit the use of these drugs in humans and especially animals.
The council said it began working toward “the prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine” in 2001. It recently expanded its efforts to include animal health as part of its “One Health” perspective.
“The Council of the European Union stresses that AMR is a growing European and global health problem in both humans and animals, leading to limited or poor options for treatment whilst diminishing the quality of life and to important economic consequences in terms of augmenting healthcare costs and productivity losses,” the legislators said, and urged international cooperation to end “an emerging threat to human health.”