Government must take the lead in tackling antibiotic resistance: NPS board chair Dr Janette Randall address to the National Press Club

26 April 2012 

NPS Board Chair Dr Janette Randall today called on the government to take the lead on a cross sectoral approach towards tackling the antibiotic-resistance crisis facing the Australian community.

In an address to the National Press Club in Canberra, Dr Randall said the issue of antibiotic resistance is not restricted to the health sector with veterinary, agriculture and manufacturing all having their part to play. Leadership is needed to ensure efforts are coordinated and cost effective.

“Government needs to take the lead and recognise where cooperation across portfolios is required,” said Dr Randall.

“Industry and health researchers must be supported to invest in R&D and the development of new antibiotics.  New mechanisms to fund drug development and bring new antibiotics to market through innovative reimbursement models are urgently needed.

“We need to take action at all levels – individuals, health professionals, communities, media, industry and government. We must act strongly, and we must act now.”

Dr Randall also previewed a world without antibiotics, warning that we risk not only returning to an era before antibiotics were discovered, but an even more daunting post-antibiotic era where the bacteria are smarter, more virulent and cause nastier and more complex infections.

“Data shows that the timeline between a new antibiotic becoming available and the development of resistance to that antibiotic is getting shorter and shorter.”

“We are facing a world where infections from something as simple as a scratch have the potential to kill and where common illnesses once again become serious or untreatable and carry a higher risk of complications and death,” Dr Randall said.

The speech coincides with the launch of new consumer campaign from NPS to address the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in the Australian community.

“We are asking all Australians to become resistance fighters and join the fight against antibiotic resistance and we are supporting this campaign with other tools and resources to help change attitudes and behaviours towards antibiotic use,” Dr Randall said.  

“We have an ambitious goal to reduce antibiotic prescribing by 25% in five years. This will bring Australia in line with the OECD average of defined daily dose of antibiotics per capita/per day and give us a real chance to reduce the incidence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Australian community.

“To help us achieve this, we are working with GPs, pharmacists, nurses and other health professionals to promote the use of best-practice guidelines for infections, encourage symptomatic management of colds and flu, and to facilitate better patient conversations when discussing antibiotic resistance and the correct use of antibiotics,” said Dr Randall.

A full copy of Dr Janette Randall’s speech is available via the NPS website.

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