Today is European Antibiotics Awareness Day 2014 (EAAD). This International Day of awareness was started in order to educate people about the appropriate use of antibiotics, in the fight against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
AMR is one of the most serious challenges to our health that we face. The Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies has named it a “ticking time bomb” and the Government has ranked AMR on the list of threats to the UK, on a par with terrorism and major natural disasters, like flooding (see article). As resistance to antibiotics looms, the Chief Medical Officer has warned that today’s routine operations could become deadly in just 20 years if we lose the ability to fight infection.
Across Europe, organisations and charities, clinicians and patients will be taking part in activities to spread the message – that the threats to antibiotics are severe, and we all must work together to reduce inappropriate prescribing.
At BIVDA we will be taking part in European Antibiotics Awareness Day, and wish to state that the role of the pharmacist in near patient testing could be greatly increased, to help tackle AMR. Pharmacists are well placed within the community, to further support the healthcare system, and by using simple diagnostic tests, pharmacists could ascertain whether a patient has a viral or bacterial infection to steward our antibiotics.
We know that antibiotics don’t work on viruses, and using a test in this way could show if antibiotics were needed, and hence reduce inappropriate prescribing. As the World Health Organisation has outlined –
“40% of antibiotic prescriptions are inappropriate… This relates especially to antibiotics prescribed for the common cold and sore throat; these most often result from viral infections, on which antibiotics have no effect”.
Previously we have put together information on the potential role of the pharmacist in near patient testing This outlines the practical issues that may arise, and other point of care tests that pharmacist could undertake.
The World Health Organisation has issued a press release, which also discusses the role of the pharmacist in tackling AMR. It shows that pharmacists are appropriately trained, useful resource which should be harnessed, and that they are an effective link between prescribers and patients. See here for the WHO press release.
Key Facts about antibiotics
· No new classes of antibiotics have been developed in 20 years
· Antibiotics have added 20 years to our lives
· 9 out of 10 times, a sore throat is caused by a virus
· Antibiotics don’t work against viruses
· 60% of all prescribing in the NHS is for respiratory tract infections (RTIs). In these cases, antibiotics have no clinical benefit for the patient
· Antimicrobial resistance kills 25,000 people a year in Europe
· Multi Drug Resistant TB has been reported in 92 countries.
To coincide with European Antibiotics Awareness Day, Nesta have opened the Longitude Prize up for submissions.
In order to tackle growing levels of antimicrobial resistance, the challenge set for the Longitude Prize is to create a cost-effective, accurate, rapid and easy-to-use test for bacterial infections that will allow health professionals worldwide to administer the right antibiotics at the right time. It has now officially been opened for submissions. If you have an idea that could win, or you want to find out more, click here