Finish your course of antibiotics says RPS

Patients should be advised to finish their course of antibiotics in light of an opinion piece published in today's BMJ

RPS spokespeople hit the airwaves today to respond to an opinion piece in today's BMJ 'The antibiotic course has had its day' which questions the basis of current advice to patients to complete their course of antibiotics. Kieran Hand and Philip Howard, Consultant pharmacists specialising in antibiotics appeared on BBC News Channel, BBC TV's Victoria Derbyshire Show, SKY News and seven BBC local radio stations to inform the public to complete their course of tablets.

Kieran Hand said: "This opinion article from respected NHS infection experts is a welcome opening of the debate in the UK on the relationship between the length of a course of antibiotics, efficacy and resistance.

“As the researchers have pointed out, further research is needed before the “Finish the course” mantra for antibiotics is changed and any alternative message such as “Stop when you feel better” can be confidently advocated. Until definitive new advice is available, patients should be advised to continue to take their antibiotics as prescribed and to finish the course.

“It’s important to consider fate of “leftover” antibiotics if patients are told to ‘stop when they feel better’.  Patients should be encouraged to return any unused antibiotics to a pharmacy for safe disposal rather than putting them in the bin, or even worse, saving them for future use or sharing them with friends and family as this could really contribute towards antibiotic resistance. The ideal future scenario would be that the right length of treatment for a specific infection for patients is identified from clinical trials and the exact quantity needed is prescribed and dispensed.”

Watch Kieran's interview on the BBC News Channel:

Watch Phil's interview on SKY News: