New study finds variations in antibiotic consumption across Europe between 2014 and 2018

New study finds variations in antibiotic consumption across Europe between 2014 and 2018

  • 27/07/2021

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) together with WHO Regional Office for Europe have published a report on antibiotics consumption in countries across the WHO European Region. The study identifies changes in consumption of antibiotics in many countries, but also stresses the need for more detailed data, with the goal to improve strategies to reduce antimicrobial consumption across the European Region.

Overuse of antibiotics is a well-known factor for the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), where infections increasingly become resistant to drugs and thus potentially life-threatening. The newly publicized report identified some differences in antibiotics usage between two sets of countries, the ECDC’s European Surveillance of Antimicrobial Consumption Network (ESAC-Net) and WHO/Europe’s Antimicrobial Medicines Consumption (AMC) Network.

The findings show a significant decrease in the consumption of antibacterials in eight ESAC-Net countries: Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. However, figures for the AMC Network were less clear, reflecting the more complicated nature of data collection. The report used overall consumption to measure antibiotic use. However, the study also warns that relying on consumption alone can miss important nuances and is inadequate to assess overall national performance.

The study calls for more detailed analysis of specific groups and individuals within countries. This can help identify useful national interventions to improve the use of antibiotics and promote alignment of clinical practices with international guidance on their responsible use. Gaining a better understanding of these behavioural and cultural factors in health is an important part of the European Programme of Work, 2020–2025 – “United Action for Better Health in Europe”, which includes behavioural and cultural insights as one of its core flagship areas.

Read the full ECDC/ WHO Europe report here: