Antimicrobial resistance and causes of non-prudent use of antibiotics in human medicine: results of the ARNA project


The final report of the EU-funded project “Antimicrobial Resistance and causes of Non-prudent use of Antibiotics” (ARNA) highlights that in Europe 7% of all antibiotics used in 2016 were taken without prescription; the two main sources being over-the-counter (OTC) sales and use of leftover antibiotics.

Lack of knowledge among patients and pressure on healthcare professionals to provide antibiotics without prescription were highlighted as two key factors contributing to this issue. At a health-system level, enforcement of laws banning OTC sales of antibiotics did not seem to always be effective.

The project showed that 14 EU Member States have already published a national plan to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR), while 26 have a surveillance system and a set of activities to promote prudent antibiotic use. However, additional efforts to improve patients’ education, develop clear guidelines to healthcare professionals and promote a close collaboration between general practitioners and pharmacists are recommended to tackle this issue. Multi-faceted campaigns implemented at national level and under the umbrella of the European Antibiotic Awareness Day could also be effective and are needed across the EU. At a policy level, collaboration between healthcare professional organisations, patient organisations and policymakers is recommended.

The EU-funded Antimicrobial Resistance and causes of Non-prudent use of Antibiotics (ARNA) project aimed at enhancing prudent use of antibiotics in the EU, mainly focusing on the reasons for use of antibiotics without a prescription and actions to prevent such use.