European countries increase commitment to responsible antibiotic use in animals

  17 October 2019

A report published by EMA shows that European countries continue to reduce the use of antibiotics in animals. The overall sales of veterinary antibiotics across Europe dropped by more than 32% between 2011 and 2017. 

In particular, two of the critically important classes of antibiotics for human medicine were used less in animals: sales of polymyxins plummeted by 66% and sales of 3rd- and 4th-generation cephalosporins decreased by more than 20%. These classes include antibiotics used to treat serious infections in humans caused by bacteria resistant to most treatments. 

The findings of the report confirm the downward trend seen over the last few years and show that EU guidance and national campaigns promoting prudent use of antibiotics in animals to fight antimicrobial resistance are having a positive effect.

The report, part of the European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) project, presents data from 31 countries from the European Economic Area and Switzerland which voluntarily provided information on sales or prescriptions of veterinary antibiotics for 2017. Participation in the ESVAC project has grown substantially, from nine countries in 2010 to 31 countries in 2019. This shows a clear commitment of European countries to promote responsible use of antibiotics in animals, which ultimately lowers the risk of bacteria in food of animal origin becoming resistant. 

Effective Surveillance  
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