First steps taken but still a long way to go to tackle antimicrobial resistance

pillsLast week, the European Parliament adopted its report on veterinary medicinal products advocating for the banning of collective and preventive antibiotic treatment of animals. The vote represents an important step in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Europe and Commissioner Andriukaitis strongly welcomed the EP report and the good work of Rapporteur, Mrs Grossetête.

Let’s not forget Mrs Grossetête’s instrumental role in unlocking another area of high unmet need with the Orphan Medicinal Products regulation, which she shepherded through with great success over a decade ago. Can she do the same with this dossier and ensure that this text – and another on Human Health, which we all hope to see soon – is strong enough to drive real and most needed change towards the fight against AMR?

Less use of antibiotics in farming is critical but we all know more needs to be done. AMR threatens the effective treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. With research and development timelines running into decades and resistant strains multiplying by the day, all stakeholders concerned need to take a minute to think about the grave impact of inaction today.

Patients with infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria are also at increased risk of worse clinical outcomes and death, and consume more health-care resources than patients infected with the same bacteria that are not resistant.

Without harmonized and immediate action on a global scale the issue will become too big to tackle – it is estimated today that AMR will cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050. With no action, that figure will be much bigger.

It falls on the Commission to ensure Member States come up with comprehensive action plans against AMR by 2017 (in line with the WHO Action Plan) and that it itself sets up instruments incentivising research on antimicrobials to bring innovation forward. Only this way can Commissioner Andriukaitis make the EU the best practice region in the fight against AMR and hope to make a mark globally.

Nicola Scocchi is consultant in FTI Consulting’s healthcare team in Brussels.

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