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Nice calls on pharmacy to curb antibiotic use

Nice: Pharmacies can change perceptions of antibiotics as a cold treatment

The recommendation body has named the sector as vital in reducing antibiotics use for self-limiting conditions

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has named pharmacists as "very important" in changing public perceptions of antibiotic use.

Pharmacists could help curb public demand for antibiotics to treat self-limiting conditions such as coughs and colds, Nice said in draft guidelines released on Tuesday (September 8).

It stressed that patients with self-limiting conditions need to see pharmacists – not GPs or A&E – as the “first point of call” for advice.

The committee felt that self-care needs to become the “easy choice” for people, it added. 

Nice also called for a “package of interventions” to raise public awareness of the risks of antimicrobial resistance and the typical length of self-limiting conditions. This should be disseminated through all care settings, including pharmacies, social care and out-of-hours services, it said.

OTC medicines body the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) agreed that patients concerned about the symptoms of a cold or seeking advice on suitable treatments should turn to a pharmacist for “expert advice and reassurance”.

The organisation’s research showed that more than a third of patients who visit a GP with cold or flu symptoms do so to get an antibiotic prescription, it claimed. “This shows that the message that antibiotics are not effective at treating colds and flu is just not getting through to people,” said PAGB chief executive John Smith.  

Last month, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) responded to a separate Nice document on antimicrobial resistance by renewing its call for a national minor ailments scheme as a way to “proactively” reduce antibiotic prescriptions.

How do you educate patients about correct antibiotic use?

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Emma Anderson, Academic pharmacist

This is a great website to support appropriate self care and antibiotic use where necessary

Pillman Uk, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Well if we can't stop the prescribing, let's make damn sure that when they are prescribed that they are on formulary and at the right dose. Just had a prescription this am, phenoxymethypenicillin 125mg/5ml for an 8 year old. Weighed her at 23kg, so called doctor to review dosage. Amended Rx faxed through. This is one aspect, and liaising with the LMC to gain their support is the way forward

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

perhaps the best way would be for local GPs to get together with their local Pharmacists (yes I know -what are the chances) and agree what they want referring and what should be self medicated. perhaps then we could talk to patients with confidence and not expect to be made to look stupid by a GP who rolls over every time. From a practical standpoint I suspect getting agreement within a surgery is probably impossible let alone between different surgeries AND Pharmacists.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Pharmacists in community have sweet FA influence I'm afraid

THB _B, Community pharmacist

if I had a pound for every time I heard a locum pharmacist say..."green phlegm? sounds like an infection. you need antibiotics......" I would have a nice house in a tax haven somewhere.....

Super Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

We do say that but we also add that it's most likely viral, not bacterial, so antibiotics will be useless

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

I can imagine the conversation: Pharmacist: "What are you suffering from - did you know it will get better on its own without antibiotics?" Patient: "But my doctor gave me the prescription - he must think they will help" Pharmacist: "Let me confirm it with the GP" Patient: " Don't bother, I'll take my prescription somewhere else" or Doctor:"Why are you questioning my clinical decision to prescribe antibiotics? Please don't bother me again" When will people listen - Antibiotics are prescription only Doctors write prescriptions Lay this at their door - if a GP (or any prescriber) doesn't know when t hey should and shouldn't prescribe antibiotics, then retrain them. And if they give the prescription "because the patient asked for it", then..... retrain them! Prescribing is not about giving patients what they want - it is about giving patients what they need!

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