Digital ways to raise antibiotic awareness

The use of social and other digital media – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, text messages, video and websites – for health messaging is growing rapidly in the WHO European Region. All 19 of the non-EU countries that participated in the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) in 2015 used digital media to raise awareness about antibiotic resistance. This marks a tremendous change from a couple of years earlier, when only 2 of these countries used digital media to promote campaigns.

Actions included:

  • In Armenia, text messages about antibiotic use were sent to all mobile phone users via two large telecommunication companies. In addition, flash mobs were arranged at some universities.
  • In the Republic of Moldova, the National Centre for Public Health collaborated with a private mobile phone company to send text messages on antibiotic resistance to all mobile phone users.
  • The Czech Republic‘s National Institute of Public Health placed advocacy videos on their YouTube channel as well as in hospitals.
  • The Estonian Health Board created a web site and a social media campaign.
  • Lithuania used its public transport to show short films on preventing antibiotic resistance
  • Slovakia prepared video spots with microbiologists, infectious disease specialists and WHO experts and shared an official campaign website.

For more information about antibiotic awareness on the website

New business model for antibiotics

Revenues for pharmaceutical companies need to be delinked from sales of antibiotics to avoid their over-use and avert a public health crisis, according to a new report from the Centre on Global Health Security, Chatham House.
The main recommendations of the report are:
  1. A new business model needs to be developed in which the return on investment in R&D is delinked from the volume of sales.
  2. Increased public financing of a broad menu of incentives across the antibiotic life-cycle is required, targeted at encouraging the development of antibiotics to counter the greatest microbial threats.
  3. The assessment of current and future global threats arising from resistance should be updated periodically in order to identify which classes of product are a priority for incentives.
  4. The delinkage model should prioritize both access and conservation.
  5. Domestic expenditures on the model need to be globally coordinated, including through the establishment of a secretariat, and global participation in the model is the ultimate goal.

The report “Towards a new global business model for antibiotics: delinking revenues from sales” on the website

G7 and anti-microbial resistance

The G7 meeting in October 2015 focussed on the topics of antimicrobial resistance and the fight against Ebola. The EU was praised for its ‘one-health’ approach.

For more information, click here on the German website

The fight against antimicrobial resistance

An international task force has been convened to battle the increasing resistance to life-saving drugs. The Transatlantic Taskforce on Antimicrobial Resistance (TATFAR) consists of representatives from the EU, the USA and other countries such as Canada and Norway.

Infections from antimicrobial resistance (AMR) kill almost 50,000 people a year in the EU and USA combined and billions of euros and dollars are lost in avoidable health care costs and lost productivity.

For more information about TATFAR, click here on the website

Bio-tech companies and drug-resistant bacteria

There is a feeling amongst small bio-tech companies that their skills are being overlooked in the initiatives being developed to confront the problem of drug-resistant bacteria. An alliance of 37 such companies across Europe have pledged to accelerate progress in dealing with this threat by bringing together expertise in the design and development of new antibiotics, the identification and implementation of preventative strategies against resistance and in the design of improved diagnostic technologies to facilitate more appropriate antibiotic treatment.

The BEAM Alliance says it will remain at the forefront of antibiotic drug, device and diagnostic discovery and development as a combined technical and scientific force across Europe. It also intends to stimulate research and development activities focused on combating antibiotic resistance and to promote new policies and regulation around the use and development of antimicrobial resistance strategies.

For more information, click here on

Pharmaceutical pollution across the world

According to the global consumer watchdog, the improper disposal of pharmaceutical waste by polluting factories in China, and their links with some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, is creating a looming public health disaster. These polluting Chinese factories supply some of the world’s best known pharmaceutical brands including Pfizer and some of the biggest generic drug manufacturers (McKesson, Teva) are also sourcing products from factories violating environmental and safety standards.

The report’s findings are based on customs data, import licenses, databases and company financial and legal documents, reports from regulatory bodies in several countries and first-hand evidence obtained from an undercover investigation in China. They reveal a ‘complex and murky’ web of commercial relationships between Chinese producers, Indian middlemen, and trusted global brands. The need to clean up the global production and supply chain is urgent since the disposal of large quantities of antibiotic effluent in the environment and the proliferation of resistant bacteria in land and waterways surrounding production sites is contributing to an aggravation of the global Anti-Microbial Resistance crisis.

By dumping antibiotic waste into the environment, these factories create huge breeding grounds for superbugs, and the concentrations of antibiotics in polluted waterways can be as high as in the bloodstream of someone on a full strength dose of antibiotics. The report calls on pharmaceutical companies to embrace transparency throughout their supply chains and to immediately stop purchasing active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from polluting factories. 

To read the full report, click here on

To read the executive summary, click here on http://sumohere

Health MEPs propose blueprint for safer healthcare

Between 8% and 12% of patients admitted to hospitals in the EU suffer adverse events such as healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), which place a heavy burden on limited health service budgets. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 1 in 20 hospital in-patients, on average, suffers from an HAI in the EU, that is to say, 4.1 million patients annually, and every year 37,000 people in the EU die as a result of an HAI, even though 20%-30% of these infections are considered to be preventable by intensive hygiene and control programmes.

MEPs have suggested a number of measures to improve patient safety, such as tackling growing resistance to human and veterinary antibiotics by using existing treatments more responsibly and promoting innovation. Specific measures include strictly prohibiting their use without prescription, implementing marketing practices designed to prevent conflicts of interest between producers and prescribers, and better information, monitoring and infection control.

Noting that resistance to certain commonly used antibiotics is encountered in at least 25% of cases in several member states, MEPs also urge pharmaceutical companies to invest in developing new antimicrobial agents. MEPs also advocate responsible use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine, including medicated feed, by allowing their use only for treatment after veterinary diagnosis. Two pieces of legislation on the matter are under discussion in the European Parliament. The use of veterinary antibiotics should therefore gradually be restricted to therapeutic purposes, by progressively eliminating their use for prophylactic ones. Metaphylaxis, i.e. the mass medication of animals to cure sick ones on farms whilst preventing the infection of healthy ones, should also be minimised, say MEPs.

To find out more about the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, click here on

The fight against the development of resistant bacteria

For the first time, integrated analysis of data from humans, animals and food has been used by three leading international bodies to produce a report on the effect of antimicrobials.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) jointly analysed data from EU member states, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

This holistic approach aims to make better use of the existing data and strengthen coordinated surveillance systems on antimicrobial consumption and antimicrobial resistance in human and veterinary medicine, and to allow policy makers to decide on the best way to tackle antimicrobial resistance in humans and animals.

The report also identifies data limitations that need to be addressed to allow further analysis and conclusions to be drawn. These include additional data on antimicrobial consumption by animal species, data on antimicrobial consumption in hospitals in more European countries and monitoring of resistant bacteria in the normal flora from both healthy and diseased people.

To read the report, click here on

Every day 1000 people in Europe develop TB

An estimated 360,000 Europeans developed tuberculosis (TB) in 2013, or around 1000 people a day.

According to new data published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe, this figure was about 6% lower than in 2012, continuing a sustained decline over the last decade across the Region.

However, rates of multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB remain at very high levels, particularly in the so-called 18 high-priority countries, which see 85% of all new TB cases in the Region.

These countries also accounted for most of the 38,000 TB-related deaths in 2013.

To read more, click here