What can pharmacists do to halt the alarming rise of antimicrobial resistance and why will they need to look further than their shop walls if they are to make a difference asks Rachel Mountain, reporter.

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Pharmacy promotion

Dr Diane Ashiru-Oredope, pharmacist lead for the AMR programme at PHE and lead for the Antibiotic Guardian campaign, adds that community pharmacists have a “key role” in tackling AMR.

“It is important for community pharmacy to promote Antibiotic Awareness Day and Antibiotic Awareness Week every year,” she says.

“It’s a key part of the winter campaign and NHS England already signposts patients to pharmacy during the winter period.”

So what are the best ways for community pharmacists to exploit their unique position to help educate patients about AMR?

Marie Philbin, antimicrobial pharmacist and chair of the Irish Antimicrobial Pharmacist Group, says: “Community pharmacists are ideally placed to educate patients on symptom management and to explain that they don’t need antibiotics to treat coughs and colds.”

Dr Ashiru-Oredope advises it is important not to pre-empt a patient’s expectations by advising them they need to take antibiotics if they present with a self-limiting infection.

“Just keep it simple and advise them to see the doctor and leave it at that,” she says.

“We often hear patients say they have been told to go to the doctor because they need antibiotics.”

Community pharmacists also play a key role in helping patients understand why they need to take their antibiotics for the full course.

Babir Malik, a community pharmacist based in Scunthorpe, suggests that giving patients a simple piece of advice can encourage them to take their prescription correctly.

“A lot of people will take their medication but will stop when they feel better so I always say they need to complete the course, tell them for how long and add that even if they start to feel better – which they will – they need to carry on taking it,” he said.

Join us tomorrow for more information on questioning prescriptions.