UEMO response to the European Parliament’s STO report “Antibiotic Resistance”

08/06/2008 Policy2 1977 Views

UEMO recognises that the discovery of antibiotics is one of the major contributions to modern medical treatment and remains an indispensable tool in daily clinical practice.

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is therefore a very serious issue, and we welcome the EP initiative to find suitable ways of tackling the problem.

We share the view of the EP’s STOA (Scientific Technological Options Assessment) report that greater priority should be given to the fight against resistance then to the development of new drugs.

UEMO also considers the 6 policy options listed in the report to be a sensible and useful way forward in the struggle against bacterial resistance. We support a coordinated approach through, for instance, the ECDC as suggested, and believe that additional research in the field of bacterial resistance along with a Europe-wide accreditation program could prove cost-effective. Promotion of “prescription only” policies is essential, as is providing incentives through reimbursement systems or in other ways to encourage the use of rapid diagnostic tests and other suitable tools in general practice and hospitals to make diagnosis as exact as possible. Along with this, educational programs for doctors and other healthcare workers should be partly EU funded along the lines suggested in the report.

Crucially, the EU strategy against bacterial resistance must also cover the use of antibiotics in veterinarian medicine and food industry.

The STOA report needs to be seen in the context of the current pressure from pharmaceutical companies to be allowed to provide “information” to patients. This proposal from the companies poses clear dangers that such information will become covet advertising and promotion: direct to consumer advertising by the back door and this is clearly a grave cause for concern in the context of antibiotic resistance. The adverse effects of direct to consumer advertising are well documented. Patients have expressed a wish for information about medicines, including antibiotics, which is genuinely independent and free of conflicts of interest. Clearly, this aspiration cannot be met by the pharmaceutical companies and, particularly in the context of rising antibiotic resistance, we strongly oppose the provision of “information” by these companies. Such a development would be a disservice to the people of Europe .

Bergen, 7 June, 2008

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