43% reduction in EU antimicrobial sales

The annual report on European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC), published by EMA in November 2021, shows that European countries have substantially reduced the use of antimicrobials in animals.

According to data from the 25 countries that provided input for the full 2011-2020 period, overall sales of veterinary antimicrobials in these European countries were 43% lower in 2020 than in 2011. However, 4 countries recorded an increase of more than 5% and 2 other countries noted a minor increase or decrease (below 5%) in overall sales.

Antimicrobials important in human medicine

“The decrease in overall sales of antimicrobials for use in animals over 10 years shows that EU policy initiatives combined with guidance and national campaigns promoting prudent use of antimicrobials in animals are having a positive effect,” said Ivo Claassen, head of the EMA’s veterinary medicines division. Sales of those antimicrobials that are considered critically important in human medicine, decreased noticeably between 2011 and 2020 and accounted for only 6% of total sales in 2020.

In particular, sales of third and fourth- generation cephalosporins dropped by 33%, polymyxins by 76%, fluoroquinolones by 13% and sales of other quinolones dropped by 85%. These classes include antimicrobials used to treat serious infections in humans that are caused by bacteria resistant to most other antimicrobial treatments. In animals, they should be used with restrictions in order to preserve their effectiveness and mitigate the risk to public health.

The ESVAC report, which is published annually, is used as a reference source of information for scientists, veterinarians and other health professionals, risk assessors and policy makers in the EU Member States on the topic of antimicrobial resistance. Under Regulation (EU) 2019/6, reporting sales and use data for antimicrobials in animals will become a legal obligation for EU Member States and the Agency. The new requirements will apply to data from 2023 onwards.

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