Focus needs to remain on reducing antimicrobial resistance in a One Health context


For many years now the animal sector, much like the human sector, has been involved in measuring the sales of antibiotics with a view to analysing the data and agreeing on actions to reduce their use to address the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance.

Thanks to the actions taken so far in the animal sector, data from the 2021 European Medicines Agency’s ESVAC report shows that veterinary antibiotic sales have been decreasing continuously across Europe since 2011. The drop over this ten-year period has reached over 50% in key markets and is now at 47% on average across the EU, UK and EEA.

Reflecting on the latest figures, EPRUMA Chair Cat McLaughlin stated:

Whilst the reduction in sales of antibiotics of animals shows great progress in terms of ensuring both better animal health and responsible use of medicines, we must not lose sight of the true objective: to reduce the development of antimicrobial resistance. Scientific evidence increasingly shows that veterinary use of antibiotics is not driving resistance increases in humans, but we in the food production and veterinary sector cannot be complacent in our efforts. Using antibiotics responsibly in animal care, will help to preserve their effectiveness and support our high standards of animal health and welfare, our food sustainability and public health across our nations.

Although sales data from animal and human health sectors can offer an indicator of trends in antibiotic use, it cannot measure whether AMR itself is rising or falling, and that’s what we really need to address. Testing for resistance itself can help direct our actions. Sales reporting from all sectors must also be accompanied by AMR surveillance. And we need to ensure that we are using this data to analyse where our attention and actions should focus.”

Antibiotics remain valuable tools to treat infectious bacterial diseases in both people and animals, and are important tools also for plant health. Data collection on sales of these medicines needs to be underpinned by enhanced surveillance of use and a better understanding of the development of resistance. This will help to gain clarity as to where AMR transfer occurs and what actions can be most effective.

EPRUMA partners encourage and support such surveillance efforts so that future strategies can focus on actions providing the greatest potential impact. There are many actions we can take in common, the most important being: using antibiotics as little as possible, but as much as necessary.