New NICE guidelines to tackle antibiotic ‘addiction’

pharmafile | August 18, 2015 | News story | Manufacturing and Production AMR, Antibiotics, NICE, antimicrobial resistance, guidance, infections 

NICE has published guidance to help health care professionals promote and monitor the sensible use of antibiotics – and support them in refusing patient requests for unnecessary prescriptions.

It follows a draft guideline document unveiled by NICE earlier this year on guidelines to monitor antibiotic prescribing, in which healthcare professionals were asked to keep an eye on their prescribing colleagues to encourage them to promote the sensible use of antibiotics and preserve their future effectiveness.

The guidelines, which were developed over 18 months by a multi-disciplinary group of health professionals and lay members from across the UK, focuses on professional health care staff who prescribe antimicrobial drugs and the increasing demand public for them.

The increasing use of antibiotics means they have become less effective. Infections can evolve and become resistant to antibiotics, and previous Government reports have found that there is a lack of new antibiotics on the market.

The aim of the guidance is to ensure the current antibiotics available are used in an effective way. Overall antibiotic prescribing in England has been steadily increasing over several years. Nationally, 41.6 million antibiotic prescriptions were issued in 2013-14 at a cost to the NHS of £192 million.

Yet despite considerable guidance that prescribing rates of antibiotics should be reduced, research shows 90% of GPs say they feel pressured to prescribe antibiotics, and 97% of patients who ask for antibiotics are prescribed them.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for clinical practice at NICE, says: “People who have mild infections who go and see the GP do so with the intention of getting an antibiotic, which does put pressure on the doctor. Most GPs know it’s not the right thing to do and the vast majority resist it. But if people are absolutely committed to getting an antibiotic prescription they will probably find a way of doing so. What this guidance is trying to do is help professionals to resist that pressure from the public.”

Next year NICE will be producing its second guideline on advice for the general public who, Baker says, still “aspires to swallow or be injected with antimicrobial drugs, which is where the problem lies.” He believes people are still wedded to the idea of antibiotics to cure infection, even though most infections do not require antibiotics.

He went on to say: “Our second guidance next year will try and introduce into the public mentality the idea that antibiotics aren’t going to work on those people with mild infections and they do more harm than good. It’s a pincer movement”

Yasmita Kumar

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