European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC)

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The European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) project collects information on how antimicrobial medicines are used in animals across the European Union (EU). This type of information is essential to identify possible risk factors that could lead to the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance in animals.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) started this project in April 2010 following a request from the European Commission for the Agency to develop a harmonised approach for the collection and reporting of data on the use of antimicrobial agents in animals from EU and European Economic Area (EEA) Member States.

ESVAC strategy 2016 - 2020

EMA has developed a draft ESVAC strategy for 2016-2020. It is open for consultation until 30 June 2016:

During the next five years, ESVAC will continue collecting and publishing overall sales data from as many EU and EEA countries as possible.

The draft strategy aims to enable the analysis of European-level trends in antimicrobial consumption per animal species using data that is standardised between countries. EMA will bring together the best European expertise for harmonising data collection and analysis methodologies and will provide guidance on the collection of data per species, with a specific focus on the three major food-producing ones: pigs, cattle and broilers (poultry). 

Latest figures on sales of veterinary antibiotics

EMA publishes an annual report on the sales of veterinary antibiotics. Risk assessors and risk managers in Member States use these reports to inform antimicrobial policy and the responsible use of antimicrobials

The latest report, published in October 2015, shows that sales of antibiotics for use in animals in Europe fell by approximately 8% between 2011 and 2013:

Sales of veterinary antimicrobial agents in 26 EU/EEA countries in 2013

According to Member States, the factors that may have contributed to the decline include responsible-use campaigns, increased awareness of the threat of antimicrobial resistance, restrictions of use and targets and changes in animal demographics.

The ESVAC project has grown from reporting data from nine countries for its first report covering 2005-2009 to 26 countries from the European Economic Area for its 2013 report. These countries account for approximately 95% of the food-producing animal population in the region.

Interactive database

As a visual aid to the report, a new interactive database allows users to access a summary of the specific ESVAC data they are interested in, including data for a specific country or sales of a particular antimicrobial class. Users can also customise charts, maps and graphs.

Previous reports

ESVAC sales data collection form and protocol

In order to obtain standardised and harmonised data on sales of veterinary antimicrobials, the Agency together with the ESVAC national contact points developed a data collection protocol and a data collection template for compilation and submission of data using MS Excel.

ESVAC will launch a call for data in 2016 for the submission of 2015 data.

As of 1 September 2015, the delivery of sales data to ESVAC has been web-based. EMA has revised its ESVAC sales protocol and template for web-based submissions:

In principle, the same types of data as before will be collected via the web tool.

Although ESVAC data are now collected via the web tool, the Excel templates for submitting data may be useful for countries which are not a part of ESVAC but are planning to establish a data collection system in their country:

ESVAC population correction unit

The amounts of veterinary antimicrobial agents sold are linked to the animal demographics in each country. In order to normalise the sales data for the animal population that can be subjected to treatment with antimicrobial agents, a population correction unit (PCU) is used in the ESVAC as a proxy for the size of the animal population. The way the PCU is calculated can be seen in Appendix 2 of the first ESVAC report.

Standardised units of measurement (updated)

To enable a more detailed analysis of trends in antimicrobial consumption, ESVAC is preparing a system for the collection of harmonised and standardised data on consumption by animal species.

As a first step, EMA has established standardised units of measurement for reporting antimicrobial consumption in specific animal species, called the ‘defined daily dose’ and ‘defined course dose’ for animals. For more information, see Standardised units of measurement for veterinary antimicrobials.


The Agency holds meetings on monitoring the consumption of veterinary antimicrobial agents in Europe, bringing together representatives of Member States and other stakeholders:

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