GPs in the UK will be expected to cut inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics by 50% by 2020, according to a new target announced by Prime Minister David Cameron.
The target will make the UK the global leader in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, Cameron said when he made the announcement at the G7 meeting of world leaders in Japan on 27 May 2016.
“If we do nothing about this [antimicrobial resistance] there’ll be a cumulative hit to the world economy of US$100 trillion, and the potential end of modern medicine as we know it,” he said.
“As a first step, the UK has put in place £265m to track the spread of resistance in developing countries, and £50m into a global fund for antimicrobial resistance research and development.
“But we need to go further. We need to act on both the demand for new antibiotics and the supply for existing ones. And so we will cut inappropriate prescribing in the UK by half by 2020, leading the global field in reducing demand for antimicrobials.”
The announcement comes after NHS Improvement — the organisation responsible for overseeing NHS trusts and providers — revealed that GPs in England have cut the number of inappropriate prescriptions for antibiotics by 2.6 million or 7.3% in one year.
It said the fall was “significantly” more than the 1% target set. The organisation revealed that some 2.3 million fewer items were prescribed and the unnecessary use of ‘broad-spectrum’ antibiotics fell by 16% — a reduction of more than 600,000 items.