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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause 33,000 European deaths a year

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2018-11-08  Views: 35
Core Tip: Approximately 33,000 people in Europe die each year as a direct consequence of an infection caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Approximately 33,000 people in Europe die each year as a direct consequence of an infection caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics. The burden of these infections is comparable to that of influenza, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined. This is according to a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) study on the burden of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria of public health concern in the EU and in the European Economic Area (EEA). This stark number highlights the need for prevention and control strategies, the researchers note.
The burden of disease is measured in number of cases, attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). These estimates are based on data from the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-Net) data from 2015.

The study explains that 75 percent of the burden of disease is due to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and that reducing this through adequate infection prevention and control measures, as well as antibiotic stewardship, could be an achievable goal in healthcare settings.

“The estimated burden of infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the EU/EEA is substantial compared to that of other infectious diseases and increased since 2007. Strategies to prevent and control antibiotic-resistant bacteria require coordination at EU/EEA and global level,” the report authors say.

A further 39 percent of the burden is reportedly caused by infections with bacteria resistant to last-line antibiotics such as carbapenems and colistin. According to the report, this statistic is worrying because these antibiotics are the last treatment options available. Should these antibiotics no longer be effective, it will prove to be extremely difficult to treat infections.

“One of the greatest threats to human health today”
The World Health Organization (WHO) deems antibiotic resistance to be one of the three greatest threats to human health today, as bacteria become increasingly resistant and too few treatments are being developed to combat them.

Governments are taking note. For example, just last month, Public Health England (PHE) relaunched its national campaign to raise awareness of the issue of antibiotic resistance in a bid to support the government’s efforts to curb inappropriate prescriptions for antibiotics in the UK.

“The public has little understanding of the concept of antibiotic resistance and what it means for them. Research shows that inappropriate prescribing is, in part, due to patients expecting or demanding antibiotics, without understanding that they may not be effective for their illness in the first place. The focus of this campaign was on tackling this lack of understanding and thereby reducing patient pressure for antibiotics,” PHE reports in a press statement on the campaign.

Industry incentives
Efforts to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics are not just coming from the sector: Industries across the board hold a pivotal role in addressing this issue.

Speaking to NutritionInsight about approaches in the food and beverage industry to curb the use of antibiotics, an EFSA spokesperson highlights EMA and EFSA’s Joint Scientific Opinion on measures to reduce the need to use antimicrobial agents in animal husbandry in the EU, and the resulting impacts on food safety.

“Reducing the use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals, replacing them where possible and rethinking the livestock production system is essential for the future of animal and public health. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the world’s most pressing public health issues, and the use of antimicrobials in animals contributes to this problem. So limiting their use to the minimum necessary to treat infectious diseases in animals is crucial,” the spokesperson says.

In January, a European consortium managed by the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and AstraZeneca, coined DRIVE-AB, determined that a market entry reward of US$1 billion per antibiotic globally could significantly increase the number of new antibiotics coming to the market in the next 30 years.

As reported at the time, DRIVE-AB (Driving Re-investment in research and development for antibiotics and advocating their responsible use) was tasked with developing and costing new economic models to promote antibiotic innovation and the sustainable use of the resulting, novel antibiotics. Based on its research, the consortium estimates that up to two innovative antibiotics addressing priority pathogens identified by the WHO could receive a market entry reward in the next five years.


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