“ANTIBIOTIC resistance is a complex problem and can only be tackled by individual professionals stepping forward and doing their part in their particular field of expertise,” said Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Scotland Board member, Johnathan Laird, at the AMR Scotland conference in Glasgow.
The RPS in Scotland had taken a lead on the issue, and was calling for better education of the public on the use of antibiotics, and the development of new antibiotics through financial incentives. The RPS was championing the need to develop new antibiotics to stay ahead of the resistance curve, and was also campaigning to ensure antibiotics were used appropriately and that basics like hand hygiene standards were kept to the highest level possible.
“A key focus for the RPS in Scotland is antimicrobial stewardship to make best use of the antibiotics available,” he told delegates.
He explained that pharmacists were the most accessed healthcare professionals in the UK, and so it was critical for pharmacists to make every patient contact count.
A collaboration of NHS Scotland, The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Pharmacy Voice, The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, The Royal College of General Practitioners, UK Clinical Pharmacy Association, The Royal College of Nursing, The Infection Prevention Society and The British Infection Association, had developed a patient leaflet to help manage expectations around antibiotics, by educating them at the point of presentation, which was “a key battleground in the fight against antimicrobial resistance”.
The leaflet detailed the normal duration of symptoms of some common conditions, such as cough, cold, and sore throat, which was very useful in helping pharmacists to reassure people and to recommend symptomatic relief. It was also a useful aide-memoire for red flag symptoms.
Not only was the RPS seeking to influence practice, but it had also taken the antimicrobial stewardship message directly to politicians with parliamentary debates on AMR and a reception. This work was all underpinned by the joint statement on antimicrobial resistance agreed between The UK Faculty of Public Health, The Royal College of Physicians, The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, The Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of General Practitioners. This joint working was critical, he said, as “without a multidisciplinary approach this work is so much less effective”.
Another significant problem that pharmacists could help with was educating people on accessing antibiotics from online sources: “The Royal Pharmaceutical Society encourages patients to seek advice from their local pharmacist or other healthcare professional before considering buying online. Unfortunately, like so many products, antibiotics are readily available online,” he explained.
Antimicrobial stewardship in a collective bid to avoid antimicrobial resistance was the ultimate goal, however there were also many common sense reasons not use antibiotics too. Lateral thinking, and common sense were required to solve the problem of antimicrobial resistance.
“The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is calling for three things, and all three things are relevant to the battle to turn the tide on antimicrobial resistance: we need new medicines, we need better medicines, we need better use of medicines,” he concluded.