The rising threat of antibiotic resistance

The rising threat of antibiotic resistance
Credit: Shutterstock

A major European and global health issue is resistance to or inappropriate use of antibiotics. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) estimates that each year, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) results in 25 000 deaths and related costs of over EUR 1.5 billion in healthcare expenses and productivity losses. 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. In addition, in several Member States, between 25 % and up to more than 60 % of Klebsiella pneumoniae from bloodstream infections show combined resistance to multiple antibiotics.

As resistance increases, the number of effective antibiotics drops, meaning that there may be no antibiotics left to fight life-threatening diseases. The situation is all the more serious because antimicrobials have become an essential tool for . Many surgical operations could not be performed without them. Moreover, an inability to use the right antibiotics for critically ill patients, owing to , could seriously jeopardise these people's chances of survival. According to the ECDC, in the European Union, Norway and Iceland, for example, 400 000 are estimated to occur every year.

However, action is being taken. The European Commission has adopted an action plan against the rising threats from AMR with 12 actions for implementation with EU member countries and seven areas where measures have been identified as necessary. These include; making sure antimicrobials are used appropriately in both humans and animals, preventing and their spread, developing new effective antimicrobials or alternatives for treatment and improving communication, education and training.

At the global level, the (WHO) has adopted a strategic action plan on AMR. It aims at strengthening surveillance of antibiotic resistance, promoting rational use of antibiotics, strengthening infection control and surveillance in health care settings, preventing emerging resistance in the veterinary and food sectors, promoting innovation and research on new drugs and improving awareness, patient safety, and partnership

Commenting on the European Commission's Action Plan, Mrs Testori Coggi, head of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers, said: 'In order to successfully address antimicrobial resistance, we need to tackle the problem in a comprehensive approach, in which all relevant parties and stakeholders live up to their responsibility to combat this serious health threat in their respective areas. Therefore, there is no hierarchy of actions in the Action Plan, as all aspects are interrelated. Notably, the promotion of prudent both in human and veterinary medicine, the development of new antimicrobial products and prevention of infections must proceed in parallel.'

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also contributed, including by setting-up a Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), which produced a guideline on the evaluation of medicinal products indicated for treatment of bacterial infections. The guideline addresses the overarching requirement for the development of antibacterial agents that have a direct action on bacteria. The EMA has also launched a public consultation on an addendum to the guideline on the evaluation of medicinal products indicated for treatment of bacterial infections. It provides additional guidance on the requirements for clinical studies related to specific indications and on clinical development programmes for new antibacterial agents targeted at rare or multidrug-resistant pathogens. The public consultation for this guideline ends on 31 January 2013.

More information: www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/Pages/home.aspx
www.euro.who.int/amr
ec.europa.eu/health/antimicrob… /policy/index_en.htm
www.ema.europa.eu/ema/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Resuscitating' antibiotics to overcome drug resistance

Mar 28, 2012

Combining common antibiotics with additional compounds could make previously resistant bacteria more susceptible to the same antibiotics. 'Resuscitation' of existing antibiotics has the potential to make infections caused ...

Recommended for you

US looking past Ebola to prepare for next outbreak

6 hours ago

The next Ebola or the next SARS. Maybe even the next HIV. Even before the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is brought under control, U.S. public health officials are girding for the next health disaster.

Can robots help stop the Ebola outbreak?

15 hours ago

The US military has enlisted a new germ-killing weapon in the fight against Ebola—a four-wheeled robot that can disinfect a room in minutes with pulses of ultraviolet light.

New bird flu case in Germany

15 hours ago

A worrying new strain of bird flu has been observed for the first time in a wild bird in northern Germany, the agriculture ministry said Saturday.

Mali announces new Ebola case

Nov 22, 2014

Mali announced Saturday a new case of Ebola in a man who is fighting for his life in an intensive care unit in the capital Bamako.

Plague outbreak kills 40 in Madagascar: WHO

Nov 22, 2014

An outbreak of plague has killed 40 people in Madagascar, the World Health Organization said, warning that the disease could spread rapidly in the country's densely populated capital Antananarivo.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.