European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC)

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 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.

Visual guide on ESVAC project

ESVAC 2017 infographicEMA has developed a PDF iconvisual guide showcasing the ESVAC project and its key achievements.

Interactive ESVAC database

EMA maintains an interactive ESVAC database allowing 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 use the database to customise charts, maps and graphs.

Access the database directly via the button below:

Click to access the interactive ESVAC database

Annual report 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 as a reference for antimicrobial policies and for guidance on the responsible use of antimicrobials.

The latest report, published in October 2019, shows that sales of antibiotics for use in animals in Europe fell by more than 32% between 2011 and 2017. 

ESVAC report


PDF iconSales of veterinary antimicrobial agents in 31 European countries in 2017

The sales of polymyxins plummeted by 66% and the sales of third and fourth generation cephalosporins decreased by more than 20%. These classes include colistin and other antibiotics used to treat serious infections in humans caused by bacteria resistant to most treatments. 

The report also shows that the situation across Europe remains contrasting. In 19 countries of the 25 that provided data covering 2011-2017, sales have dropped by more than 5% but 3 countries recorded an increase of more than 5%.

The substantial decline in some countries indicate that there is also a potential for a decrease in other countries.

The ESVAC network has grown from nine countries reporting data for its first report covering 2005-2009 to 31 countries from the European Economic Area and Switzerland for its 2017 report. 

Previous reports

Stratifying sales data by animal species

In July 2018, EMA launched a project for stratifying sales data of veterinary antimicrobials by animal species. This enables an approximate estimation of consumption by different species, by allocating a proportion of the total sales to each species a veterinary antimicrobial is used in.

EMA has published a protocol for collecting sales data for stratification:

The protocol is based on ongoing experience with a pilot project with six volunteer Member States that has been testing this methodology and possible approaches to be used in EU/EEA Member States.

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.

    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

    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:

    Reporting data by animal species

    In February 2018, EMA published guidance on reporting antimicrobial consumption data by animal species and an updated questions-and-answers document (Q&A) clarifiying the rationale for certain recommendations, taking into account comments received during public consultation:

    On 26 April 2017, the European Commission organised a workshop with EMA on data collection on consumption of veterinary antimicrobials in Europe. There was general consensus among stakeholders on the need to collect data on antimicrobial use by animal species, and on the benefits of such data collection. For more information see the European Commission website.

    ESVAC strategy 2016 - 2020

    EMA has developed an ESVAC strategy for 2016-2020. The strategy takes into account stakeholder feedback provided during public consultation:

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

    The 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. It 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).



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