Parents can lead the fight against antibiotic resistance - Antibiotic Awareness Week 18-24 November 2013

22 November 2013

One in 4 Aussie parents have kept left-over antibiotics or unfilled antibiotics prescriptions to use ‘next time’, according to new research released today for global Antibiotic Awareness Week.

In the survey of 1000 people conducted in July 2013, NPS MedicineWise found that 1 in 10 people have taken left-over antibiotics without first speaking to their doctor or pharmacist, and that parents are more likely to hold on to the medicines for next time they or their children get sick.

Pharmacist and manager of NPS Medicines Line, Sarah Spagnardi, says while it can be tempting to keep and use left-over medicines, the misuse and overuse of antibiotics contributes to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or ‘superbugs’.

“When we use an antibiotic incorrectly, or when it’s not needed, bacteria have a greater chance of becoming resistant to that antibiotic in the future. This is a problem we can all help to solve,” says Ms Spagnardi.

“Just because a certain antibiotic worked for you or the kids last time, doesn’t mean the same antibiotic will be appropriate next time you get sick. Instead of reaching for an old box of medicines, take some simple steps to help fight antibiotic resistance in your home.

“If you or your child is prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as directed by your doctor. And if you have an unfilled script or any unused antibiotics, return them to your pharmacist for safe disposal.”

During Antibiotic Awareness Week 2013, Australians are reminded that the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is one of the greatest threats to human health today. Globally, and in Australia, we’re facing a return to the pre-antibiotic era where even minor infections could lead to death.

NPS MedicineWise says whilst most people know that bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, too few recognise the extent of the problem in Australia.

Findings released this week show that just 32% of people think antibiotic resistance is a major health problem in Australia and only half have considered the possibility that antibiotic resistance could affect them or their family.

The findings also found that most Australians are putting their faith in health professionals to solve the problem, while only half think that they too can stop the spread of ‘superbugs’ in the community.

“Antibiotic resistance is everyone’s problem so we all need to be part of the solution,” says Ms Spagnardi.

“As parents, we guard our children’s health with our lives. If we want to protect our kids from the threat of superbugs, we need to act now. Let’s make sure our families use antibiotics correctly, and only when they are needed, so we can preserve these life-saving medicines for generations to come.”

Join the fight against antibiotic resistance at

Learn more about antibiotic resistance and appropriate use of antibiotics at

Antibiotic Awareness Week 2013 is supported by the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care, the Australian Veterinary Association, the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases, the Australian Society for Antimicrobials, the Australian College for Infection and Prevention Control, the Australian College of Rural & Remote Medicine, the Australasian Medical Writers Association, the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association, the Therapeutic Guidelines Limited, the National Asthma Council Australia, the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia and The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia with NPS MedicineWise as part of our five year campaign to address the spread of antibiotic resistance in Australia.


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.

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