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AMR set to kill 10 million people per year by 2050: Cameron-commissioned report

19 May 2016
by epha -- last modified 19 May 2016

No single country can solve the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) situation on its own, states the new report "Tackling drug-resistant infections globally" by the UK Review on AMR.


The threat to public health posed by drug-resistant infections (DRI), a.k.a. AMR is global, and of unprecedented scale and urgency. As previous reports under the AMR review have found, already today AMR causes 700,000 deaths every year globally, including at least 25,000 in the EU, where infections are resistant to antimicrobial drugs available (including antibiotics, antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasitic treatments). The AMR review projects that this will rise to at least 10 million deaths per year by 2050 at a cumulative cost of USD100 trillion in terms of lost global production to 2050 if politicians fail to take effective action.
EPHA warmly welcomes Lord O'Neill's report which was supported by the Wellcome Trust and UK government, and especially that it produces clear recommendations on both the demand (responsible use of existing and future antimicrobials in both people and animals) and supply (new incentives and models to encourage development of new types of antimicrobials) sides of the problem.
The final report recommends measures in four vital areas:

  • Measures to oblige responsible use of antimicrobials in people including improved surveillance, rapid diagnostic testing, alternatives;
  • Much stricter surveillance and restrictions on antimicrobial use in agriculture;
  • Incentives to develop new types of antimicrobials, including funds and rewards for innovation and a levy on pharmaceutical companies;
  • Global public awareness raising campaigns

"The danger posed by AMR already today is indicative of the political neglect and chronic under-investment in public health by the public and private sectors, both in Europe and globally. This must change." stated Nina Renshaw, Secretary General of the European Public Health Alliance.
"We regret that the role of the EU has not yet been given particular consideration. The focus of the report is largely on G20 and the UN. Whilst global coordination is surely necessary, we may not have time to wait for worldwide agreement on action, as negotiations are notoriously difficult and may drag over decades. Europe can and should act as a trailblazer, identifying and implementing effective best practices which can be replicated around the world, particularly when it comes to obliging responsible use of antimicrobials in both people and animals." added Sascha Marschang, Policy Manager at the European Public Health Alliance.
"Particularly when it comes to over-use of antimicrobials in livestock, the EU has much more stringent laws in place than other regions. The EU rules undoubtedly need to be strengthened further to be up to the challenge. But, the contrast to the USA - which is a big issue in TTIP - is illustrative of how tough it will be and why we cannot wait for global agreement. The USA has failed many times over decades to limit antibiotics as growth promoters in healthy animals, as this is seen as a profitable practice." he explained. "The EU still has many problems of our own, including over-the-counter sales of antibiotics - which are technically illegal, but still common practice. These restrictions need better control and enforcement, so as not to undermine good practices, for example in infection control." Marschang concluded.
The Review notably recognises tuberculosis as a cornerstone of the global AMR challenge where drug resistance is already a major issue today, including in Europe. TB infections are rising every year and severely undermining global health progress. Without urgent action on AMR, it will not be possible to reverse the trend in this global killer.

The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) is a change agent – Europe's leading NGO advocating for better health. We are a dynamic member-led organisation, made up of public health NGOs, patient groups, health professionals, and disease groups working together to improve health and strengthen the voice of public health in Europe. EPHA is a member of, among others, the Social Platform, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), the EU Civil Society Contact Group and the Better Regulation Watchdog.

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