US, EU Jointly Fight Antimicrobial Resistance

GLOBAL - International collaboration is critical for combating global health crisis, and the US and EU are making progress on the Transatlantic Taskforce on Antimicrobial Resistance (TATFAR), which covers both medical and veterinary antibiotic use.
calendar icon 19 May 2014
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The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the European Commission released today the first progress report of the Transatlantic Taskforce on Antimicrobial Resistance (TATFAR).

The report renews the commitment of US and European Union (EU) health authorities to pursue specific goals in their joint battle against antimicrobial resistance, a complex, dynamic and multi-faceted concern not bound by borders. The report also summarises the advancements made during the first TATFAR implementation period of 2011-2013.

TATFAR was created following the 2009 US-EU presidential summit with the goal of improving cooperation between the US and the EU in three key areas:

  • appropriate therapeutic use of antimicrobial drugs in medical and veterinary communities
  • prevention of health care- and community-associated drug-resistant infections, and
  • strategies for improving the pipeline of new antimicrobial drugs.

“The partnership offers a unique perspective to tackle antimicrobial resistance worldwide,” said Jimmy Kolker, HHS Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs. “We hope that the positive outcomes of this partnership will serve as a global model as we continue to work on this critical issue.”

TATFAR identified and adopted 17 recommendations for collaborations between the US and the EU. Implementation of the recommendations has been carried out through increased communication, regular meetings, joint workshops, and the exchange of information, approaches and best practices.

Moving forward, one new and 15 existing recommendations will serve as the basis for partner agencies in the US and the EU to focus on areas where common actions can deliver the best results in prevention and control of antimicrobial resistance. In 2013 it was decided to renew TATFAR for another two-year term.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a priority of the European Commission, and international cooperation is key in addressing this serious cross border and global health threat. I am positive that our renewed commitment to TATFAR can make a tangible contribution in the area of global health security,” said John F. Ryan, Acting Director for Public Health in the European Commission.

Notable outcomes of TATFAR activities during 2011-2013 include:

  • Adoption of procedures for timely international communication of critical events that might indicate new resistance trends with global public health implications
  • Publication of a report on the 2011 workshop, 'Challenges and solutions in the development of new diagnostic tests to combat antimicrobial resistance' to the TATFAR web site, and
  • Joint presentations to the scientific community to increase awareness about the available funding opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.

Studies estimate that drug-resistant infections result in at least 25,000 deaths in 29 countries in Europe and 23,000 deaths in the US every year. In addition to the toll on human life, antimicrobial-resistant infections add considerable and avoidable costs to health care systems. Antimicrobial resistance costs the EU and the US billions every year in avoidable health care costs and productivity losses.

In the US and in the EU, significant progress in reducing specific types of infections has been made. However, the global problem of antimicrobial resistance continues to escalate. Therefore, the original mandate of the taskforce that ran through 2013 has been extended for at least two additional years.

Forthcoming publications from the taskforce during 2014 that will provide a foundation for specific joint collaborative actions include:

  • A report summarising the strategies hospitals in the US and EU should include as part of their programs to improve antimicrobial prescribing practices
  • A joint publication summarising the existing methods for measuring antimicrobial use in hospital settings
  • A joint publication describing the need for new vaccines for healthcare-associated infections (HAIs); and
  • A joint publication comparing the results of the US and EU point prevalence surveys, which are used to estimate the burden of HAIs in each population.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control served as the TATFAR Secretariat from 2011-2013, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will serve as the Secretariat from 2014-2016.

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