Europe Addresses Antibiotic Resistance

Dec 01, 2010

In November 2008, the first-ever European Antibiotic Awareness Day took place across Europe.1 Its success has led to plans for this to become a regular fixture, with the third European Antibiotic Awareness Day held in November 2010. Although there have been previous efforts to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance in Europe, the organisers behind the first European Antibiotic Awareness Day believed that improvements need to be made in sharing information and best practice.1

The ongoing campaign has been promoted by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), an EU agency whose goal is to strengthen Europe's defences against infectious diseases. The campaign is also backed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID), the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), as well as a number of European healthcare professionals.1

This broad, international participation has enabled the organisers to run a series of events held in different European member states during European Antibiotic Awareness Day. In 2008, for example, the inaugural campaign started with a scientific briefing and press conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg (France), followed by national press conferences rolled out in EU countries ranging from Estonia to Greece. In a number of these countries, the Ministers of Health took part in the briefing sessions. As part of the campaign, leaflets and factsheets prepared in conjunction with local prescribers were distributed and a multilingual website was also launched.

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations (EFPIA) has welcomed the European Antibiotic Awareness Day initiative, but has also used the occasion to remind governments that the current drugs available are thanks to the historic efforts of the pharmaceutical sector.2 It hopes that greater awareness of the issues surrounding antibiotic resistance will translate into support for the industry to produce next generation antibiotics. Given the high investment needed and the time lag to product launch in the existing regulatory and economic environment, however, it has been lobbying the European Commission to provide specific incentives to enable it to fast track its efforts. These moves appear to have had some impact; in 2009, Sweden used its Presidency of the EU to promote more open discussion of the industry's concerns on the matter.3