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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

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Updated on 08/01/2019

Antimicrobial resistance

A cross-cutting theme at ANSES

Keywords : Antimicrobial resistance, Animal health, Veterinary medicinal products, Antibiotics

Antimicrobial resistance is a major international human and animal health issue, because the emergence and spread of drug-resistant strains of bacteria call into question the efficacy of these treatments in humans and animals alike. Preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics is therefore a genuine public health challenge requiring an integrated approach across all types of medicine, according to the "One Health" concept covering both humans and animals.
ANSES has mobilised significant resources to address the topic of antibiotic resistance. Through all its research, reference, surveillance and risk assessment activities, the Agency contributes to a greater understanding of the risks associated with antimicrobial resistance related to farming, food and the environment and, therefore, ultimately the risks to human health.

Marketing authorisation for safe and effective antibiotics

The French Agency for Veterinary Medicinal Products (ANMV) within ANSES grants marketing authorisation (MA) in France for veterinary antibiotics. In this context, it assesses their quality, efficacy and safety for the animal, the user (safety during administration), the consumer and the environment, taking into account the specific risk of development of resistance. It also monitors these products after they have been placed on the market, with regard to production (verification of good manufacturing practices, quality control), marketing (advertising controls) and any adverse effects (pharmacovigilance).


Monitoring the use of antibiotics in animals

Since 1999, the ANMV has been monitoring national sales of veterinary products containing antimicrobials, in cooperation with the (French Union for the Veterinary Medicinal Product and Reagent Industry (SIMV)). Monitoring sales of antibiotics enables the authorities to assess their use and monitor changes in antimicrobial therapy practices for different animal species. The information gathered is one of the essential elements, together with monitoring of bacterial resistance, needed for assessing the risks associated with antimicrobial resistance.

Read the Sales Survey of Veterinary Medicinal Products Containing Antimicrobials in France - 2017

France also participates in the European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) network, which was set up by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The Ploufragan-Plouzané-Niort and Lyon laboratories conduct ad hoc livestock surveys to collect descriptive data on the prescription and use of antibiotics. These data are analysed to better estimate the exposure of different animal species (food-producing animals and pets).  


Contributing to the rational use of antibiotics

For many years now, ANSES has participated in the European days on control of antimicrobial resistance. In this context, each year the Agency organises a scientific symposium to enable the players involved, whether scientists, decision-makers or professionals in the field, to address this issue. It provides an opportunity to explore new measures to improve the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine and limit the spread of resistance genes by the food chain and the livestock environment.

It also took part in the initiative by the French National Society of Veterinary Technical Groups (SNGTV) to develop a best practice guide for the prevention of antimicrobial resistance in veterinary medicine. In addition, the Agency is one of the players involved in implementing the interministerial roadmap to control bacterial resistance to antibiotics. It also actively contributes to achieving the objectives of the Ministry of Agriculture's Ecoantibio plans


Assessing the risks related to antimicrobial resistance

ANSES assesses the risks associated with antimicrobial resistance as part of MA procedures. It has also worked to identify at-risk practices and assess alternatives to antibiotics.

Assessing the risk of emergence of antimicrobial resistance associated with patterns of antimicrobial use in the field enabled the Agency to specify the most appropriate measures to implement in the field of animal health, in order to establish an effective antimicrobial resistance control policy. The opinion and expert appraisal report published in April 2014 provided recommendations for each sector or animal species, which served as a basis for discussions and measures taken by the various partners within the Ecoantibio plan.

Following this report, ANSES also conducted a review of alternatives to antibiotics en vue de diminuer leur usage en élevage. A cette occasion, l’Agence a construit une méthode d’évaluation des publications scientifiques relatives à ces produits. Dans ses travaux, l’Anses souligne les limites existantes pour évaluer l’innocuité et l’efficacité d’un grand nombre de ces alternatives, tout comme leur capacité à provoquer l’apparition ou le développement de résistances. Elle met également en évidence que les différentes familles de produits alternatifs semblent être caractérisées par un effet de plus faible ampleur que celle des antibiotiques, selon les données actuellement disponibles.

D’autre part, les experts de l’Anses contribuent aux évaluations de risque européennes de l’EMA (Agence européenne de l’évaluation des médicaments) et de l’EFSA (Autorité européenne de sécurité alimentaire). Enfin l’Agence est membre actif des instances internationales travaillant sur ces questions.


Monitoring and understanding the presence of resistance in bacteria of non-human origin

ANSES is the National Reference Laboratory for antimicrobial resistance. As such, it helps set up the Directorate General for Food's annual surveillance plans, which are used to collect sentinel or zoonotic bacteria from slaughterhouses.

The laboratories also conduct a great deal of research, reference and surveillance work that helps further knowledge of antibiotic resistance.

  • They coordinate two networks that monitor resistance in bacteria of non-human origin:
    • Resapath, in bacteria isolated from sick animals during veterinary diagnoses,
    • the "Salmonella" network, in Salmonella strains isolated from food, the environment or animal production;
  • They develop methods to detect and characterise resistance.
  • They conduct research to understand the mechanisms of resistance.
  • They participate in the definition of critical values for antibiograms in the context of the Veterinary Working Group of the French Microbiology Society's (SFM) Antibiogram Committee.