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Drugs watchdog releases draft guidelines on reducing antimicrobial resistance

7 September 2015

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A draft guideline on reducing antimicrobial resistance has been published today by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), in order to help reduce the demand and inappropriate use of antibiotics and stop the spread of resistant microbes. 

The guidance recommended providing the public with information on self-limiting conditions such as colds, flu and earache, that people often wrongly think require antibiotics, to reduce inappropriate demand and use.

Also, to give patients advice and written information about the consequences of overusing antimicrobials, how long their symptoms are likely to last with and without antimicrobials, and how to manage their condition without them, including being aware of when they should ask again for medical advice.

In response to the guidance, Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE, said: “The overuse of antibiotics in the last 30 years has led to microbial resistance, and with so few new antibiotics being developed, this could result in once-treatable infections becoming fatal in years to come.”

“This new draft guideline focuses on interventions to help change people’s behaviour, and reduce antimicrobial resistance. It also aims to increase awareness, to both the public and healthcare professionals, of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, and the risks this could involve,” she added.

The report also recommended that health professionals highlight that GPs (or A&E) should not be the first point of call for treatment and information for self-limiting conditions, and should encourage people to use pharmacies and other reliable health resources such as NHS Choices.

It also stated that there should be national and local campaigns aimed at the general public to prevent infections occurring and stop them from spreading, for example on hand washing.

This new draft guideline complements existing NICE guidelines on antimicrobial stewardship, published in August, and particularly focused on people who regularly take a lot of antibiotics, such as young children and older people and people who misuse antibiotics.