Less and more appropriate use of antibiotics is needed to reduce antibiotic resistance

Significant differences in community consumption of antibiotics between EU/EEA countries, as reported in 1997, were still evident in 2017, based on data from The European Antimicrobial Consumption Monitoring Network (ESAC-Net) covering that period. Although some EU/EEA countries have been successful in addressing antibiotic consumption individually, there has not been a significant reduction in community consumption of antibiotics in the EU/EEA in general. In addition, there are still significant seasonal variations, which are usually associated with inappropriate use of self-limiting viral infections during the winter. For penicillins, the most common group of antibiotics in the community, there has been a shift from narrow-spectrum penicillin to broad-spectrum penicillin. For quinolones – all of which are included in the WHO’s control group for antibiotics, seasonal variation increased.

Unsurprisingly, the overall quality of antibiotic use in the community as measured by quality indicators declined. These quality indicators include, for example, the total community consumption of antibiotics, its seasonal variability, the ratio of broad-spectrum to narrow-spectrum antibiotics and the seasonal variability of quinolones. All of these issues represent opportunities to improve the use of antibiotics in the community.

Antibiotics play a major role in treating bacterial infections. Over time, their overuse and misuse have led to antibiotic resistance, a major public health threat, resulting in treatment failures, increased costs of care and increased mortality in patients with antibiotic-resistant infections. The authors said that reliable information on antibiotic consumption is an essential resource in the fight against antibiotic resistance for reporting antimicrobial stewardship activities, setting targets for the use of specific groups of antibiotics and monitoring adherence to national guidelines.

As part of this series of scientific articles, the authors also provide statistical tools and tutorials to help ESAC-Net participating countries assess the impact of regulatory changes, public awareness campaigns and other national interventions to improve community antibiotic use in the EU/EEA.

Note to editors:

In 2001 a European Network of National Surveillance Systems that collects comparable and reliable data on antimicrobial consumption – the European Monitoring of Antimicrobial Consumption (ESAC) project, coordinated by the University of Antwerp – was launched to accompany similar monitoring of antimicrobial resistance. By 2009, the ESAC project had expanded to include 35 European countries, and in 2011 ECDC coordinated data collection on antimicrobial consumption within the European Antimicrobial Consumption Monitoring Network (ESAC-Net), focusing on countries in the European Union and the European Economic Area ( EU/EEA). ESAC-Net data is publicly available from an interactive database as well as from annual reports.



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