Many young Australians are asking for antibiotics when they don’t need them, according to new research released by independent not-for-profit NPS MedicineWise during World Antibiotic Awareness Week (13-19 November 2017).
The national survey* of more than 2,500 people revealed that over one-third (35%) of 16- to 24-year-olds ask their health professionals for antibiotics when they have colds or flu. The results indicate that younger Australians may be unaware that antibiotics are ineffective for these common viral infections.
Respondents over the age of 75 are the least likely Australians to ask for antibiotics when they're not needed, with just 13% saying they’d ask for these medicines to treat a cold or flu.
The survey found that requests for antibiotics to combat a cold or flu generally decrease with age: 14% of 65- to 74-year-olds would ask, followed by people aged 55 to 64 (17%), 45 to 54 (19%), 35 to 44 (20%) and 25 to 34 (27%).
NPS MedicineWise Medical Adviser, Dr Andrew Boyden said: “This research shows many young people appear to lack knowledge about antibiotics and their purpose.
"Unless the excessive use of antibiotics in our community can be dramatically curbed, unfortunately it will be the younger generations who will be more exposed to antibiotic resistance as time goes on.
“We need to raise awareness, particularly in younger people, that antibiotics are a precious resource which are ineffective for the treatment of viruses, and should be reserved for the treatment of bacterial infections.”
“However, this problem isn’t isolated to only young people — our survey also suggested that that 4 in every 10 Australians would ask their GP for an antibiotic to treat their cold or flu.”
Dr Boyden added that the World Health Organization has warned antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health today, and is making it increasingly difficult to treat bacterial infections.
*The survey of 2,509 Australians was conducted by NPS MedicineWise in June 2017.
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Jonathan Abbott: 0419 618 365 or [email protected]
Juliet Pisani-Forde: (02) 8217 9249 or [email protected]