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Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is the ability of microorganisms to resist antimicrobial treatments, especially antibiotics. AMR not only has a direct impact on human and animal health - due to the failure in the treatment of infectious diseases - but also carries a heavy economic cost.

AMR is a natural phenomenon but an accumulation of factors, including excessive and inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines on humans and animals and poor infection control practices, transformed AMR into a serious threat to public health worldwide.

This leads to:

  • increasing healthcare costs
  • prolonged hospital stays
  • treatment failures
  • a significant number of deaths

Global consumption of antibiotics in human medicine rose by nearly 40% between 2000 and 2010 (UK Report).

In the US alone, "more than two million people are sickened every year with antibiotic-resistant infections, with at least 23.000 dying as a result" (data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009-2011).

In the EU, 25.000 people die each year from an infection due to antibiotic-resistant bacteriapdf(data from 2007). Infections due to these selected multidrug-resistant bacteria in the EU result in extra healthcare costs and productivity losses of at least €1.5 billion each year. If the current trend is not altered, 300 million people worldwide are expected to die prematurely because of drug resistance over the next 35 yearspdf.

AMR spreads through global tourism, transfer of patients between healthcare facilities within and from outside the EU, and through trade in food and animals.

It is an important global economic and a societal challenge that can't be tackled by countries or public administrations alone. Therefore, the problem needs a comprehensive "One Health" approach to it. That means that a holistic, multi-sectorial approach, involving many different sectors (public health, food safety, bio-safety, environment, research and innovation, international cooperation, animal health and welfare as well as non-therapeutic use of antimicrobial substances) is needed to tackle this complex problem.

In June 2016, the Commission published the Eurobarometer results on Antimicrobial Resistance awarenesspdf(3 MB) Choose translations of the previous link . The main conclusion of this Eurobarometer was that knowledge across the EU remains low.

The report, published on 16 June 2016, shows a 6% decrease in consumption in the last years even though some countries are still showing an increase in their consumption.

For more information, please refer to:

A Flash Eurobarometer in non-EU countries was also published in November 2016.

For more background information regarding AMR, please refer to the following factsheet: AMR: A major European and Global challenge.pdf(358 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 

What is AMR?pdf(358 kB) Choose translations of the previous link