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Antibiotic users [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for antibiotic users.

Antibiotics are a very useful drug when you are sick and the doctor tells you that you need to take them. However, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing global threat to public health. It occurs when bacteria and other microbes, like viruses and fungi, develop resistance to drugs, especially antibiotics, used to treat the infections they cause. Although resistance appears naturally over time, it is accelerated by factors like overuse of antimicrobial medicines on humans and animals. In the EU alone it is estimated that infections caused by resistant microbes are responsible for 25 000 deaths a year. Some forecasts say that by 2050, drug-resistant infections could cause more deaths than cancer.

Assorted pharmaceutical medicine pills, tablets and capsules on wooden spoon

© Kenishirotie / Fotolia

For almost two decades, the European Union has been working on a solution to AMR. It strives to strengthen existing good practices and to support countries fighting AMR in both humans and animals. For instance, the EU promotes prudent use of antimicrobials and improved infection prevention. Every November, European Antibiotic Awareness Day promotes the responsible use of antibiotics, as many people are not aware of the risks of misusing antibiotics. The EU also aims to improve cooperation related to activities on AMR across the EU, targeting all actors who play a role in antimicrobial drug usage, such as the pharmaceutical industry. EU funds have been invested in, for example, common research efforts to develop new effective antibiotics. Moreover, the EU has reinforced cooperation with international organisations and third countries on surveillance and research.

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