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We all need to play our part in reducing antibiotic use

AFT Pharmaceuticals

Media release

22 November 2016

We all need to play our part in reducing antibiotic use

Managing Director of AFT Pharmaceuticals, Dr Hartley Atkinson, says that the pharmaceutical industry needs to take a leading role in helping reduce antibiotic use.

Following on from the World Health Organisation’s antibiotics awareness campaign, this week a New Zealand online discussion begins about the misuse of antibiotics in this country called InfectedNZ.

Healthcare professionals and political leaders continue to sound warnings that the overuse of antibiotics presents a serious danger to human health. “The threat of untreatable infections is real,” says Arjun Srinivasan MD from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. “Although previously unthinkable, the day when antibiotics don’t work is upon us. We are already seeing germs that are stronger than any antibiotics we have to treat them.” (1)

Overuse allows bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics, thereby rendering them less effective.(2) This means that people’s ability to recover from routine infections is becoming increasingly compromised.

New Zealand’s use of antibiotics is considered excessive by medical professionals.

Dr Mark Thomas from the University of Auckland has noted that antibiotic consumption has risen rapidly in New Zealand in recent years.(3) According to Dr Thomas, “New Zealand is awash with antibiotics. Each year, per head of population, we swallow more antibiotic syrups and pills, and smear more antibiotic creams on our skin, than people in most similar developed countries.” (4)

Researchers have pointed to a link between the overuse of topical antibiotics, especially among children, and multi-drug resistant (MRSA) strains of the common infection staphylococcus aureus. Dr Deborah Williamson of Otago University says that “our current use of topical antibiotics is endangering our antibiotic supply and putting lives at risk.” (5)

Managing Director of AFT Pharmaceuticals, Dr Hartley Atkinson, supports the view that the only way to significantly reduce antibiotic use is through joint action between pharmaceutical companies, medical professionals, and consumers.

“We all have our part to play in this,” says Dr Atkinson. “For pharma companies, it’s about ensuring that we’re getting non-antibiotic alternatives to market that are effective in treating those conditions where antibiotics are currently being over-used.”

“For example, our anti-bacterial first-aid cream Crystaderm uses hydrogen peroxide. There is no known bacterial resistance for hydrogen peroxide.(6) So there is a product available for people that is effective in aiding healing, while also helping them cut back on the use of topical antibiotics.”

Dr Atkinson adds that non-antibiotic alternative products can also be commercially successful.

“Some pharma companies might be wary about investing time and resources into alternatives given consumer demand for antibiotics generally. But a product like Crystaderm shows that people will change if you actually give them good alternatives.Crystaderm now holds around 50% share of the New Zealand market against all other national and international branded products in the first aid/antiseptic cream category.(7) So it can be done.”

For more details on the InfectedNZ campaign see or #infectedNZ


(1) Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (US):

(2) Ministry of Health, ‘Antimicrobial resistance’:

(3) Mark G Thomas, Alesha J Smith, and Murray Tilyard, “Rising antimicrobial resistance: A strong reason to reduce excessive antimicrobial consumption in New Zealand”, New Zealand Medical Journal (2014)127: 72-84.

(4) Mark Thomas, “Time to reduce antibiotic prescribing – now”, Best Practice (2015)68: 3-4.

(5) Stacey Kirk and Donna-Lee Biddle, “Kids' skin cream spawns superbug”, (18 March 2015).

(6) A. Lindahl, “Skin Care in Practice” (1995)4: 9-10.

(7) IRi National Pharmacy Data – First Aid Antiseptic Creams Value/ Dollar share to 9/10/16

[End of release]

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