WHO Europe and ECDC examines variations in antibiotic consumption in European countries between 2014 and 2018

13 July 2021

Article: 55/2803

A new study, by the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe (WHO Europe) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), examined variations in antibiotic consumption in countries across the WHO European Region, between 2014 and 2018.

The report found some differences in the use of antibiotics between two sets of countries, those in the ECDC’s European Surveillance of Antimicrobial Consumption Network (ESAC-Net) and those in the WHO Europe’s Antimicrobial Medicines Consumption (AMC) Network. In 2018, the total consumption of antibiotics per 1,000 inhabitants daily, ranged from 8.9 defined daily doses in Azerbaijan, to 34.1 in Greece, with similar ranges of estimates for ESAC-Net and the WHO Europe AMC Network. However, there were considerable differences in the consumption of various antibiotic groups, with a larger consumption of penicillins and tetracyclines, and a lower consumption of cephalosporins and quinolones in ESAC-Net countries than in WHO Europe AMC Network countries.

The WHO Europe and ECDC found that between 2014 and 2018, there were statistically significant decreases in the total consumption of antibiotics in eight ESAC-Net countries, those being Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the UK, which is believed  may be due to the longstanding programmes and commitment of these countries toward the prudent use of antibiotics. The WHO Europe AMC Network data were characterised by less consistent patterns, with only one country showing a significant increasing consumption trend between 2014 and 2018. This may reflect the nature of the data collection in these countries, as well as shorter histories of interventions tackling antimicrobial resistance.

The study calls for more detailed analysis of specific groups and individuals within countries, which may help identify useful national interventions to improve the use of antibiotics and promote alignment of clinical practices with international guidance on their responsible use.

Sources: WHO, 7 July 2021 and ECDC, 7 July 2021