Responding to the Government’s Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy published today, Dr Kieran Hand Consultant Pharmacist for Anti-infectives and RPS spokesperson on antibiotics said:
“The RPS acknowledges its responsibility to enhance understanding and share best practice. We already host conferences on AMR and we will be championing greater understanding of this issue by supporting expert practice through the Faculty initiative. The UK has a proud heritage of antibiotic stewardship driven by multidisciplinary collaboration between pharmacists and medical microbiologists working together to protect public health. This AMR Strategy will strengthen and renew the vigour of this partnership to further improve the quality of patient care.
“This report needs implementing immediately if we are to avoid a future where minor surgery could become life threatening due to infection. We have used science to beat many infections that were lethal to our forefathers. We need to act now to make sure these same illnesses don’t become deadly for our grandchildren.
“Pharmacists have a key role in conserving antibiotics for future generations. Community pharmacists can help patients to manage symptoms of minor infections and support the public with alternatives to antibiotics including prevention by improving vaccination rates.”
The RPS is encouraged to see recognition of the importance of conserving available antibiotics by using them optimally. Pharmacists have a vital role to play in ensuring the optimal use of antibiotics.
The Society has responded to the Seven Key Areas for Future Action highlighted in the report:
1. Improving IP&C
We welcome the shift in emphasis from MRSA & C diff to a more holistic approach, acknowledging the importance of Gram-negative pathogens
2. Optimising prescribing practice
We endorse the intention to promote proportionate and responsible use of antibiotics in human and animal health to minimise premature mortality and morbidity as well as limiting resistance. A commitment to comprehensive NICE guidance on antibiotic prescribing is particularly welcome. We are also heartened by the commitment to developing improved rapid point-of-care diagnostics to optimise antibiotic therapy and reduce unnecessary prescribing.
3. Improving professional education, training & public engagement
We welcome the recommendation for antibiotic prescribing and stewardship competences to be included in CPD programmes for health professionals and in undergraduate curricula. We also support the concept of a quality standard for antimicrobial stewardship. Training of community pharmacists has the potential to reduce GP consultations by means of public education and symptomatic management of self-limiting infections.
4. Developing new drugs, treatments & diagnostics
We applaud the recognition of the need for research into non-antibiotic infection management strategies including pre and probiotics, bacteriophage therapy and vaccination. We support the commitment to incentivising commercial research in this unique specialty given the importance for public health.
5. Better access to and use of surveillance data
We endorse the commitment to surveillance of antibiotic prescription data and stewardship quality measures and monitoring impact upon resistance as well as key patient-oriented outcomes such as infection survival rates.
6. Better identification and prioritisation of AMR research needs
We welcome the ring-fencing of research funding to address the unique challenges of infectious diseases and AMR. Pharmacists are ideally placed to lead and support research into optimal dosing and combination therapy of narrow-spectrum antibiotics as well as heterogeneity of prescribing in clinical practice.
7. Strengthening international collaboration
UK pharmacists are already providing antibiotic utilisation and prescribing quality data to European surveillance programmes and the RPS supports the commitment to international collaboration.