Antibiotics: A Multi-Perspective Challenge (cepInput)

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In mid-March, the Commission plans to present a package of reforms to European pharmaceutical legislation. Antibiotics are a key issue. Misuse of these drugs leads to antimicrobial resistance, so that deadly infections can sometimes no longer be fought with available antibiotics. Acute shortages of certain antibiotics also highlight the need for action. The Centrum für Europäische Politik (cep) has presented the most comprehensive catalogue of measures to date.


"The EU and the Member States urgently need to agree on a concerted action," says cep health expert Patrick Stockebrandt, who drafted the recommendations with cep economist André Wolf and cep lawyer Nathalja Nolen. The authors call for reducing dependence on countries like China, diversifying supply chains and expanding promising strategic partnerships with other countries in the long term.

According to the cep experts, the Commission should establish regulatory incentives for suppliers to stockpile antibiotics. The authors suggest encouraging citizens, doctors, and other actors in the health system to use the drugs in moderation. This could be achieved e.g., through training, the development of guidelines or awareness campaigns. In addition, an incentives system for continuous innovation should be created to pave the way for the development of new antibiotics and alternatives.

According to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), geopolitical developments such as the war in Ukraine, the Covid pandemic, high inflation rates and rising energy costs have further exacerbated the shortages in antibiotic supply. As an example, the Agency cites the antibiotic Amoxicillin, which is used to treat a range of bacterial respiratory infections, especially for children.