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New Eurobarometer results show that large numbers of Europeans are still unaware that antibiotics are ineffective against viruses and against colds and flu

16 Jun 2016
​The European Commission launched today the results of its third Eurobarometer on antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic use and on the knowledge of Europeans about antibiotics.
 
Over one third of Europeans have taken antibiotics in the last 12 months. The report shows that there has been a 6% decrease in antibiotic use since 2009, although some EU Member States are still showing an increase.
 
Even though large numbers of Europeans remain unaware that antibiotics don’t work against viruses or colds and flu, knowledge is gradually increasing. In 2009, when asked if antibiotics kill viruses, 36% of the Europeans participating in the survey gave the correct answer. This percentage increased to 40% in 2013, and to 43% in 2016. There has also been an increase in the knowledge of Europeans about the fact that antibiotics are not effective against colds and flu: 46% of Europeans answered correctly in 2009, 52% in 2013, and 56% in 2016. This increasing knowledge is likely the result of successful initiatives that focused on raising awareness about these two issues in several EU Member States.
 
Overall, Europeans think that action to tackle antimicrobial resistance should be taken at all levels, with 35% in favour of action at global and EU level, 28% at national/regional level, and 19% at the individual level or within the family.
 
Other figures show that 93% of Europeans obtained their last course of antibiotics from a healthcare provider, but that 6% continue to obtain antibiotics from other sources, most likely without a prescription. This shows that Europeans respect the authority of their doctor and highlights the need to implement actions to further raise awareness among healthcare professionals, including community/family doctors.
 
ECDC welcomes the results of this Eurobarometer, and pledges to continue supporting EU/EEA Member States in their efforts to raise awareness on prudent use of antibiotics through the European Antibiotic Awareness Day initiative.
 
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