Longer exposure to antibiotics can contribute to resistance: NPS MedicineWise (GPs)

2 JULY 2013

The continued overuse and misuse of antibiotics means that one day we risk losing the effect of these vital medicines.

To help pharmacists play their role in the fight against antibiotic resistance, NPS MedicineWise has published practice points for pharmacists to help people who are taking antibiotics take them for the optimal duration to treat their infection but help prevent antibiotic resistance.

NPS MedicineWise clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says that good prescribing practices can minimise antibiotic resistance in the community, and that pharmacists are key to ensuring prescribers’ advice is followed.

“One way to stop the progress of antibiotic resistance is to minimise the duration of therapy where possible, and assist patients adhere to the intended duration,” says Dr Binns.

“In the recent issue of the monthly NPS MedicineWise e-newsletter for health professionals, NPS Direct, we are encouraging doctors to talk with the patient and specify the duration of treatment when prescribing antibiotics, taking antibiotic guidelines and clinical factors into account.

“To help patient adherence, we hope that pharmacists will reinforce the duration of antibiotic therapy according to the doctor’s instructions.

“You can also advise patients to return unused, leftover antibiotics to the pharmacy when the pack size or amount in the bottle is more than what is needed for the prescribed duration.

“And if you’re concerned that remaining or leftover antibiotics may be misused, consider dispensing the exact number of antibiotics required for the indicated duration of treatment, even if this means removing some tablets from a pack.”

The practice points also suggest pharmacists question and seek clarification if people return with a repeat antibiotic prescription after a period of time when it would be expected that the original infection would have resolved.

To read the NPS Direct article ‘Duration of antibiotic therapy and resistance’ go to www.nps.org.au/antibiotics-how-long


For more information about antibiotic resistance, and to view all NPS MedicineWise resources on this topic, visit www.nps.org.au/antibiotic-medicines


Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

Media enquiries: Stephanie Childs on 02 8217 8667, 0419 618 365 or schilds@nps.org.au or Erin Jardine on (02) 8217 8733 or ejardine@nps.org.au