Labelling changes aim to help reduce bacterial resistance to antibiotics

Effective January 2021, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has altered the cautionary advisory label on antibiotics from “until all used/taken” to “Take for [the number of] days as advised by your prescriber”.

The PSA has taken this step, after extensive consultation with stakeholders to change the recommendation on the label in recognition of the fact that “taking antibiotics for longer than necessary does not improve outcomes and increases the risk of acquiring resistant bacterial strains.”

It further states that “the required duration of treatment with an antibiotic may need a smaller quantity of antibiotic than the pack that is supplied to the patient.”

This label change comes with a number of key messages that prescribers such as dentists must communicate:

– Prescribers should include the expected duration of therapy on the prescription and communicate the duration of therapy to the patient at the time of prescribing.

– It is generally not appropriate for prescribers to include a repeat for an antibiotic on the prescription by default.

– Prescribers and pharmacists should make patients aware that the advice to take the antibiotic for the prescribed duration of therapy may be inconsistent with the advice that is currently in Consumer Medicine Information for the antibiotic.

– Prescribers and pharmacists should advise patients to take any leftover antibiotics back to the pharmacy for disposal.

In tandem with the label changes, the Medical Software Industry Association will be formally asking the the PSA and other healthcare associations to alter prescribing software to:

– Include a prompt for prescribers to include a duration of antibiotic therapy on the printed prescription

– Require prescribers to manually populate a ‘repeat’ field when prescribing any antibiotic, if a repeat is needed.

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