antibioticsThe European Medicines Agency (EMA) has announced it plans to tackle the rise of antimicrobial resistance by speeding up the development of new treatments, promoting the responsible use of antibiotics and antimicrobials and improving data to advise policy and research.

The three-pronged announcement was made to coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2015, which takes place today (Wednesday 18 November).

The EMA estimates that infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria are responsible for 25,000 deaths in Europe every year, meaning antimicrobial resistance is one of the most serious public health threats globally. As a result, there is pressure to develop new, effective treatments that fight common and emerging infectious diseases.

The EMA has identified three ways in which to safeguard public health. These are:

  • Speeding up development of new treatments. The EMA hopes to create an environment that stimulates and facilitates the development of innovative antimicrobials, especially those that target multidrug-resistant pathogens. The EMA also provides guidance and scientific advice to companies on the most appropriate clinical trial designs to study these new medicines. In particular, in 2015, the Agency released a draft new guidance and organised a workshop on the use of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data analyses to speed up the development of new antimicrobials. 
  • Promoting responsible use. Responsible use of existing antimicrobials, in humans and animals, limits the development of resistance and preserves the efficacy of medicines for future generations. As a result the EMA devotes considerable efforts to ensuring that the approved conditions of use for human and veterinary antimicrobials in the European Union (EU) incorporate principles of prudent and responsible use.
  • Collecting robust data to inform public health policies. To advise policy makers on the best way to tackle antimicrobial resistance, robust scientific data on how antimicrobials are used across the EU and how resistance emerges and transfers are needed.  This requires close cooperation between the various European agencies that have responsibilities in this area. In January 2015, EMA, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) provided the first integrated analysis of data on antimicrobial use and resistance in Europe. This report provides unique information on the consumption of antimicrobial agents and occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria from humans, food and food-producing animals.

European Antibiotic Awareness Day is organised on 18 November every year by ECDC. It aims to raise awareness of the threat of antimicrobial resistance to public and animal health and the importance of prudent use of antimicrobials.