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Antibiotic resistance in Australia

Better matching between pack size and recommended dosages may help combat antibiotic resistance. This is the finding of a study published online in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Associate Professor Treasure McGuire and colleagues from Bond University analysed existing published information of the most common antibiotics prescribed in Australia. “We consistently found a mismatch between the number of doses and the duration mandated by standard packaging sizes, and those recommended by guidelines, for the most commonly prescribed antibiotics,” A/Prof McGuire said.

“Of the 32 most common antibiotics prescribed, 10 had doses left over in surplus and 18 had a shortfall, leaving only four in which the packaging size resulted in the exact duration recommended by the Therapeutic Guidelines.

“The mismatch in duration between guidelines and that dictated by packaging may mean that a considerable quantity of antibiotics are dispensed and not consumed for the prescribed illness.”

If patients then take the excess for another reason without prescription, this may contribute to antibiotic resistance in the community. In Australia, most antibiotics are prescribed in general practice. Matching diagnoses with pack size and recommendations for use would help general practitioners and pharmacists prescribe and dispense antibiotics effectively.