In June 2011 a delegation from Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety visited the European Medicines Agency in London. During this visit both the Agency and the delegation expressed their concerns about the increasing resistance to antimicrobials, particularly antibiotics. A joint technical report from the Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) had already concluded in 2009 that at least 25 000 patients in the EU die each year from infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to many medicines, and that in the EU infections caused by these bacteria result in extra healthcare costs and productivity losses of at least EUR 1.5 billion each year(1). A Commission Report on the 2001 Council Recommendations(2) and the 2010 Eurobarometer survey identified a series of shortfalls and gaps in the promotion of the prudent use of antimicrobials. The problem is made worse by the fact that only a small number of new antimicrobials have been authorised over the past few years, a situation which may lead to infections becoming more difficult to treat in the future. Antimicrobial resistance is a growing problem in both humans and animals. Resistance can spread from animals to humans through the food chain or during direct contact. Antimicrobial resistance is a phenomenon which clearly has cross-border implications.
Could the Commission explain how, through future EU initiatives – including legislative proposals – it intends to tackle the problem of antimicrobial resistance, in particular as regards:
1. the prudent use of authorised antimicrobials for humans and for animals;
2. the need for incentives to invest in new antimicrobials;
3. the extent to which antimicrobial resistance increases public health expenditures in the Member States?
Commission Staff Working Document, Accompanying document to the second report from the Commission to the Council on the basis of Member States’ reports on the implementation of the Council Recommendation (2002/77/EC) on the prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine