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Antimicrobial resistance

Antibiotic medicines are a cornerstone of modern medical practice. Not only do they treat a wide range of infectious diseases, but they also guarantee patient safety during medical procedures, such as transplants, in hospitals. Whilst antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a natural phenomenon, it has increased dramatically over the last 20 years, making it a serious threat to public health, thus jeopardizing healthcare providers’ ability to manage life-threatening infections.

There are significant contributions that individual organizations can make, and industry has a role to play as part of a global collective and coordinated effort for to manage the threat of AMR. The European generic medicines industry is engaged in the antimicrobial resistance policy debate and will actively support efforts to ensure that European patients receive access to effective antimicrobial treatments.(view video here)

As member of the AMR Industry Alliance, Medicines for Europe fully supports the implementation by industry of the AMR IA Common Manufacturing Framework and the supportive PNECs. The industry driven initiative to work toward achieving these antibiotic discharge concentration targets will be both protective of ecological resources and also lower the potential for the evolution and selection of AMR in the environment. Watch video here 

Being the main provider of antibiotic medicines, the generic medicines industry wishes to put forward a number of policy recommendations to counter the spread of antimicrobial resistance whilst ensuring patients’ access to life-saving antibiotics.

Tackling the threat of AMR requires a comprehensive and collaborative response involving key healthcare stakeholders: government, industry, healthcare providers and patients.

  1. Increasing knowledge on antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic use in human medicine
    Whilst there is increasing data available about the spread of antimicrobial resistance in Europe, we believe that specific figures on the use of antibiotics in human medicine would allow us to better identify and address the current trends and challenges of antibiotic use over time based on consistent and standardized criteria.
  2. Promoting the prudent use of antibiotics
    As the spread of AMR is driven by the inappropriate and/or overuse of antibiotic medicine, it is crucial that patients and all healthcare professionals (including dentists and nurses) use antibiotics appropriately. For instance, patients should be full informed on the importance of finishing a treatment course, even when their condition seems to improve.
  3. Reinforcing patient education on use of antimicrobial medicines
    Lack of adherence to treatment and stopping the therapy too early is one of the causes of antimicrobial resistance.
    This educational element should be a regular part of medical consultation with doctors and regularly confirmed by pharmacists when medicines are dispensed in pharmacies.
  4. Ensuring the security of supply chain and availability of life-saving antibiotics in the EU
    The sustainability of antibiotic medicine supply is also a critical issue for the EU. Despite the increase of AMR, antibiotic medicines remain indispensable to perform a number of medical procedures or treat major infectious diseases. It is therefore crucial to ensure a continuous supply of high-quality antibiotics in the EU and to avoid shortages that can put patients’ lives at risk.
  5. Establishing responsible R&D incentives
    The traditional business model does not encourage the development of new generation antibiotics due to the low prices, and the fact that any new antibiotic coming onto the market that would come on the market would only be used in a restrictive manner (i.e. as a last resort when other antibiotics prove ineffective). In order to incentivize antibacterial R&D and ensure that initial R&D investments are recouped, a new model of research and incentives is needed, which needs to be un-linked from the volume of sales in order to contain any further spread of AMR.
  6. Addressing the potential environmental causes
    It is difficult to assess the risk of AMR associated with the environment. The link between the effluent from pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities and the spread of antimicrobial resistance should be investigated and substantiated by the relevant environmental authorities.
    Although there should not be any leftovers and excess prescribing when it comes to antibiotic treatments, the fact that unused antibiotics are not being properly disposed of needs to be tackled. Medicines for Europe, together with industry colleagues, is working on the take back of unused medicines (including antibiotics) to pharmacies to ensure they are properly disposed of: see medsdisposal campaign.