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RPS antimicrobial experts take to the airwaves

A story that questioned advice to always complete a course of antibiotics gained widespread attention in the media and RPS spokespersons were called upon to respond.

kieran-hand-15

Source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Kieran Hand, consultant anti-infectives pharmacist at Southampton General Hospital, said the RPS recommends that patients continue to take their antibiotics exactly as prescribed

Antibiotics experts from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) have featured across the media today, in response to a British Medical Journal (BMJ)  article that questioned established advice to always complete a course of antibiotics.

Patients have long been instructed to complete their full course of antibiotics, even if they feel better before the end of the course. Failure to do so is believed to contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance.

But a new analysis published in The BMJ argues that this advice may not always be appropriate. “The idea that stopping antibiotic treatment early encourages antibiotic resistance is not supported by evidence, while taking antibiotics for longer than necessary increases the risk of resistance,” the authors of the analysis argue.

The story gained widespread attention in the media, and RPS spokespersons were called upon to respond. Neal Patel, head of corporate communications at the RPS spoke to LBC, and Sibby Buckle, vice chair of the English Pharmacy Board, was interviewed by BBC 3 Counties Radio.

Kieran Hand, consultant anti-infectives pharmacist at Southampton General Hospital and an RPS spokesperson, appeared on the BBC News Channel and the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show, and was quoted in a BBC online news story.

“The message from the RPS is consistent with the chief medical officer: at the moment, we recommend that patients continue to take their antibiotics exactly as prescribed,” Hand told the BBC. He added, though, that research in future was likely to lead to the recommendation of shorter treatment courses, and patients should not be concerned that shorter courses would lead to resistance.

Philip Howard, president of the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, was interviewed on Sky News. “We don’t know, for all infections, what the optimum length of an antibiotics course is, and it’s clear that we need to do some more research,” Howard said.

He raised concerns, though, that if patients were advised to stop taking their antibiotics when they felt better, they may “stockpile” the remaining pills and use them for future infections, or share them with others, which could make antibiotic resistance worse.

Hand and Howard’s interviews with the BBC and Sky News can be viewed on the RPS website. In addition, the RPS has released a new support alert on the use of antibiotics, which is available to members here.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203294

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