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NICE working to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Two guidelines in development to improve NHS use of antibiotic drugs
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence NICE logo

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is working on guidelines to help stem the growing public health threat of resistance to antibiotic drugs.

The first of these new guidelines will relate to the use of antimicrobial drugs in health and social care in England and Wales. In particular NICE, which provides health guidance for the NHS in England and Wales, is aiming to curb the use of antibiotics in unnecessary situations to cut down on the chances for bacteria to develop resistance to treatments.

In the scoping documents for the guidance, NICE quotes a report by England's chief medical officer that successful use of antibiotics 'embodies an organisational or healthcare-system-wide approach to promoting and monitoring judicious use of antimicrobials to preserve their future effectiveness'.

This guidance, which is due to be published May 2015, aligns with advice released by several Royal Colleges and the UK faculty of Public Health advising members to say to 'no' to patients who ask for antibiotics for minor illnesses.

The second NICE document in development is a more wide-reaching piece of public health guidance that is intended to change the public's knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in relation to the use of antimicrobials and to educate health and social care practitioners about practices that can reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

The guidance follows a report published last week by Public Health England that between 2010 and 2013 there was a 6% increase in the combined antibiotic prescribing of GPs and hospitals.

NICE said it expects to publish the public health guidance, entitled Antimicrobial resistance - changing risk-related behaviours, in March 2016 after a lengthy consultation process.

The UK is tackling resistance to antibiotics on several fronts. In July this year Prime Minister David Cameron announced an independent review to explore the economic issues surrounding antimicrobial resistance. It aims to address reasons why companies are not developing new treatments.

The UK's science minister Greg Clark also announced that all seven UK research councils will work together on a strategy to address the many and varied issues related to antimicrobial resistance, while health minister Lord Howe has put pharmacists at the heart of medicines optimisation plans that include improved use of antibiotics.

Article by
Thomas Meek

14th October 2014

From: Sales, Healthcare

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