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Published on 27 January 2012

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Drug-resistant tuberculosis prompts caution

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Caution is being urged for European hospital pharmacists when prescribing antibiotics, after a new drug-resistant strand of tuberculosis was discovered in India.

More than 25,000 patients in the EU are dying each year from infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics and Brian Edwards, Emeritus Professor of Healthcare Development at the University of Sheffield, UK, believes pharmacists have a responsibility to stem the flow.

“The problems are exacerbated by the indiscriminate use of antimicrobials and the dissemination of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the human food chain,” he said.

“As the problem grows, the investment in new antimicrobials is declining dramatically.”

It is widely known that the misuse of antibiotics can cause bacteria to become resistant, and the European Medicines Agency is calling for vigilance.

“Multidrug resistance among bacteria is a global problem and organisms are easily carried across international boundaries,” says an EMA report, titled: ‘The bacterial challenge: time to react’.

“Physicians in the EU are increasingly faced with infections for which antibacterial treatment options are very limited.”

The UK’s Department of Health has published guidance on the use of antibiotics in hospitals, with a call to avoid unnecessary lengthy duration of antibiotic treatment and inappropriate use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.

“The increase in antibiotic resistance is a major concern which needs action at a global level,” reads a statement on the organisation’s website.

“It is essential that antibiotics are used in the right way to slow down resistance.”

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, added: “Many antibiotics are currently prescribed and used when they don’t need to be – meaning antibiotics lose their effectiveness at a rapidly increasing rate.

“It is important we use antibiotics in the right way if we are to get the best outcome for the patient, slow down resistance and make sure these important medicines continue to stay effective for ourselves and for future generations.”

European Medicines Agency



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