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Don’t Take The Bite Out Of Antibiotics

Media Release

Doctors around the country are urging people to make sure antibiotics don’t lose their effectiveness by overusing them.

The Wise Use of Antibiotics Campaign officially launched today is being spearheaded by 25 doctor groups (IPAs), with funding and support from the Government pharmaceutical funding agency PHARMAC and support from the Royal NZ College of GPs.

The campaign aims to educate people to use antibiotics only when they need them due to rising concerns over the number of cases of the antibiotic-resistant bug methicillin resistant staphlococus (MRSA). Overuse of antibiotics is one of the factors that leads to the “superbug”.

Recent reports show that there has been a 55 percent increase in the number of cases of MRSA across the country, rising from 648 in 1999 to 1003 in 2000.

Pakuranga GP Dr Eileen Sables, who is campaign spokesperson, says health professionals have joined forces in this fight against overuse of antibiotics in a bid to prevent resistance.

Dr Eileen Sables says one of the problems has been the public’s expectation that they should receive antibiotics for viruses such as colds and flu. However, these can’t be killed by antibiotics.

“Antibiotics are powerful medicines that are effective against a wide range of bacteria. But they aren’t effective against illnesses caused by viruses and when we try to fight them this way it simply adds to the problem of resistance. This is a community wide problem and we all need to take on board that we must use antibiotics appropriately.”

She says the best way to find out if someone needs antibiotics or not is to see a doctor who will distinguish between bacterial or viral infections.

“If you need an antibiotic you will get one. However if you have a cold or the flu the best treatment for you is rest and simple medicines such as paracetamol.”

Dr Eileen Sables says that a lot of progress has already been made with reports of a decrease in antibiotic prescribing, while independent research has also revealed that the public is taking on the message.

“We are moving in the right direction in terms of the use of antibiotics but we mustn’t be complacent. The momentum needs to continue so more and more people recognise that often antibiotics are not the answer.”


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