The European Parliament must safeguard vital antimicrobials

The European Parliament has a crucial opportunity to safeguard vital antimicrobials for human use and ensure human health is protected in the face of the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

We are calling upon MEPs to reject the currently proposed criteria as they will not sufficiently safeguard the effectiveness of crucial antimicrobials, which are often a last-resort in fighting lethal drug-resistant infections in humans. We are asking for their support to restrict the overuse and misuse of these vital medicines in food animals - they must be preserved for human use.

The new Veterinary Medicinal Products regulation enters into force in January 2022. It is a key instrument for the EU to fight antimicrobial resistance. The legislation will include specific measures that ensure responsible use of antimicrobials in animals, including preserving certain antimicrobials for human use.

As part of the regulation, the European Commission is responsible for proposing the criteria to identify antimicrobial medicine to be reserved for human consumption. The current proposal was met in July with an objection by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) of the European Parliament, on the grounds that the criteria were not in line with the WHO recommendations to reserve critically important antimicrobials for human use only, and the delegation not being sufficiently protective of human health.

HCWH Europe, and eight other healthcare, veterinary and healthcare organisations, are calling upon members of the European Parliament to now uphold the ENVI Committee’s objection and help preserve vital antimicrobials for human health.

In our factsheet, we point out that these criteria should be applied on a species-by-species basis, rather than the broad application that has been proposed. The proposed criteria are also too restrictive, placing a much higher burden of proof than the criteria set by WHO. There is also insufficient consideration of the currently available alternatives that do not rely on antimicrobials, including the alternative and improved farming practices and animal husbandry, which can help reduce the unnecessary use of last-resort antimicrobials, essential for human health.

Read more in our factsheet, available here.