NPS Thursday 19 April 2012, 1:49PM
Media release from NPS
1 in 5 Australians expect their doctor to prescribe antibiotics for
themselves and/or their child when they have a cough or cold, new
research from NPS has found.
Of the 1013 Australians surveyed nationwide*, 4 in 5 also said they
expect a prescription from their GP when they have an ear, nose,
throat or chest infection, with more than half (51%) saying they
would ask their GP for one.
Requests for antibiotics to treat their child's cold or cough were
double that of parents who would ask for one themselves (14% vs
6%), with fathers more likely to ask than mothers (22% vs
The survey also revealed a plethora of misconceptions when it comes
to antibiotics with only half of respondents knowing that bacteria
are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Only 40% knew antibiotics
should not be taken for viruses and many (40%) did not know that
taking antibiotics when they're not needed contributes to
antibiotic resistance. More than half did not know resistance
increases when you don't complete the course as directed and in
general, the youth audience had less knowledge.
Released to coincide with the launch of a new NPS campaign against
antibiotic resistance, NPS clinical adviser Dr Danielle Stowasser
says these results indicate people may be thinking about or taking
antibiotics even when they don't really need them.
"Since antibiotics were first used in treatment, they have become
one of our most important weapons against bacterial
infections. But over time, because we have been overusing and
misusing these medicines, bacteria have built up resistance to
antibiotics, meaning infections caused by these bugs are becoming
harder and harder to treat," says Dr Stowasser.
"If we don't act now to combat the development and spread of
antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we risk returning to an era where an
infection from something as a simple as a scratch could cause
serious complications, or even death. In fact, the World
Health Organization has labelled antibiotic resistance as being one
of the greatest threats to human health today."
The new NPS campaign encourages all Australians to become
antibiotic 'resistance fighters' and join the fight against
"Australians are amongst some of the highest users of antibiotics
in the developed world, with around 22 million prescriptions
written every year. If at least 35,000 Australians pledge to
join the fight against antibiotic resistance this will help bring
our use in line with the average of other OECD countries," says Dr
NPS has set up a Facebook page - www.facebook.com/NPSMedicinewise -
where from Monday 23 April people can pledge to take some simple
actions to help fight antibiotic resistance.
"The first thing an antibiotic resistance fighter does is not
expect antibiotics for colds and the flu, as these are caused by
viruses which antibiotics cannot treat," says Dr Stowasser.
"The second pledge an antibiotic resistance fighter makes is to
always take antibiotics exactly as directed by their doctor if they
are prescribed them, knowing that not doing so contributes to the
development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria."
"Finally, an antibiotic resistance fighter always practices good
hygiene - such as washing their hands and covering their mouths
when they cough or sneeze - to help stop the spread of infection
caused by both viruses and bacteria," Dr Stowasser
A variety of resources, tools and information to help consumers
learn more about becoming an antibiotic resistance fighter are now
available on the NPS website. For further information, visit