Parliament adopted its recommendations on Thursday for a coordinated EU response to health threats posed by antimicrobial resistance.
In a resolution passed with 525 votes in favour, two against and 33 abstentions, MEPs say the successful tackling of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) requires the prudent use of antibiotics for humans and animals, good infection prevention and control measures, and more research and development into novel antimicrobials and alternatives to antimicrobials.
MEPs also said that if the measures recommended to member states prove insufficient, further legislative action at the EU level would be needed.
National measures to prevent, monitor and reduce the spread of AMR
The text calls on EU countries to put in place, implement and regularly update (at least every two years) ‘National Action Plans’ against AMR, as a priority for their national health systems.
To support the prudent use of antimicrobials for human health, MEPs want to improve data collection, including real-time data, both on AMR and antimicrobial consumption. They also ask the Commission to establish an EU-level database.
Addressing antimicrobial consumption
While they agree with the target proposed by the Commission to reduce by 2030 the total human consumption of antibiotics in the EU by 20%, MEPs insist that national measures must also ensure that at least 70% of antibiotics consumed belong to the “access group” as defined in the WHO’s AWaRe classification (antibiotics that are efficient against a wide range of commonly encountered pathogens while also showing lower resistance potential).
Support for research and prevention of medicines shortages
The resolution calls on member states and the Commission to support research data sharing and technological innovation for the detection, prevention and treatment of infections in humans caused by antimicrobial resistant pathogens. In this context, MEPs say the creation of a European partnership should involve all stakeholders (industry, patient organisations, academia) and should be accessible to SMEs.
They underline the importance of coordinating national initiatives on manufacturing, procurement and stockpiling, in order to prevent medicines shortages and significantly improve the continuity of supply of antimicrobials and other AMR countermeasures in the EU.
Member states are expected to adopt the Commission proposal for a Council recommendation on combatting AMR in mid-June.
On 26 April 2023, the Commission proposed a Council recommendation on stepping up EU actions to combat antimicrobial resistance in a One Health approach, as part of the reform of EU pharmaceutical legislation.
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared AMR as one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity. In July 2022, the Commission identified AMR as one of the top three priority health threats. Each year, bacteria resistant to antibiotics cause more than 670 000 infections and approximately 33 000 people die as a direct consequence in the EU/EEA.
In adopting this resolution, Parliament is responding to citizens’ expectations to ensure that all Europeans have access to healthy food and a healthy lifestyle and to guarantee their equal access to health as expressed in Proposals 7 (1), 7(5) and 10(1) of the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe.