Sales of antibiotics for animal use have almost halved between 2011-2021
EMA’s annual report on the European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) shows that, since 2011, European countries have substantially reduced sales of veterinary antibiotics in animals. According to data from 25 countries that continuously provided input for the full 2011-2021 period, overall sales of veterinary antibiotics decreased by 47% in this interval, reaching the lowest value ever reported.
Sales of antibiotic classes considered critically important in human medicine also decreased noticeably between 2011 and 2021 and accounted for only 5.5% of total sales in 2021. Sales of third and fourth generation cephalosporins dropped by 38%, polymyxins by 80%, fluoroquinolones by 14% and sales of other quinolones dropped by 83%. These antibiotics should be used prudently and responsibly to preserve their effectiveness and mitigate the potential risk to public health, as indicated in the Antimicrobial Advice ad hoc Expert Group (AMEG) categorisation.
“The positive results reflect the efforts of veterinarians, farmers and pharmaceutical industry to reduce the use of antibiotics to prevent antimicrobial resistance. It also shows that European Union (EU) policy initiatives and national campaigns promoting prudent use of antibiotics in animals are having a positive impact,” said Ivo Claassen, Head of EMA’s Veterinary Medicines Division.
This ESVAC report includes, for the first time, information on the progress made towards the European Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy target to reduce the sale of antimicrobials for farmed animals and aquaculture in the EU. In only three years, between 2018 and 2021, the 27 EU Member States have already achieved a 18% reduction, approximately one third of the 50% reduction target set for 2030.
The Farm to Fork Strategy is at the core of the European Green Deal and aims to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally friendly.
For each country participating in the ESVAC project there is a separate section presenting sales trends by antimicrobial class. Some countries describe their main measures to address antimicrobial resistance and how these activities contribute to the observed changes in sales in their country. The measures include national action plans, national campaigns for prudent use of antimicrobials in animals, restrictions on the use of certain antimicrobials in food-producing animals, or measures to control prescription of antimicrobials in animals.
The twelfth ESVAC report presents data from 31 European countries (29 EU/EEA countries, Switzerland and the United Kingdom). All participating countries voluntarily provided information on sales of veterinary antimicrobials.
The ESVAC project was launched by EMA in September 2009 following a request from the European Commission. Since then, the Agency has coordinated and supported European countries’ efforts to establish standardised and harmonised reporting on the volume of sales of veterinary antimicrobial medicinal products. The ESVAC report is published annually and is used as a reference source of information for scientists, veterinarians and other health professionals, risk assessors and policy makers in the EU Member States.
Under Regulation (EU) 2019/6, reporting data on the sales and use of antimicrobials in animals will become a legal obligation for EU Member States and the Agency. The new requirements will apply to data from 2023 onwards.