Sales of antibiotics for animal use fallen by 47% in Europe in a decade, report says

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recently published the 12th report on the European surveillance of veterinary antimicrobial consumption (ESVAC) project, which shows that sales of antimicrobials for use in food-producing animals in Europe fell considerably since 2011. Overall, the majority of participating countries have been successful in reducing the use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals. The latest results show the potential in other countries as well.    

According to data collected from 25 countries in the time span 2011-2021, overall sales of veterinary antibiotics decreased by 47%, reaching the lowest value on record.    

"The positive results show that 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 progress towards the goal of the European Commission's Farm to Fork Strategy, the core of the European Green Deal, to reduce the sale of antimicrobials for farmed animals and for aquaculture in the EU. In three years, between 2018 and 2021, the 27 EU Member States have already achieved a 18% reduction, around a third of the 50% reduction target set for 2030.    

Each country participating in the ESVAC project has to describe its key measures to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and explain how these activities contribute to the observed changes in sales in the 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;  
- measures to control the prescribing of antimicrobials in animals.    

The ESVAC project was launched by EMA in September 2009 at the request of the European Commission. Since then, the Agency has coordinated and supported the European countries in establishing standardized and harmonized reports on the volume of sales of veterinary antimicrobial medicines.    

The ESVAC report is published every year and is used as a source of reference information for scientists, veterinarians and other healthcare professionals, risk assessors and policy makers in EU Member States.