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RPS publishes new policy on pharmacy's contribution to antimicrobial stewardship

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has published a new policy on antimicrobial stewardship (AMS).

Released as part of a new campaign, launched at the RPS 2017 annual conference to raise awareness of the importance of AMS among pharmacists, the policy makes a number of recommendations on how the sector’s expertise should be used towards minimising antimicrobial resistance.

Heidi Wright, practice and policy lead for England at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said that the policy “asks for more recognition and support of the leadership role that pharmacists can, and do, play locally and nationally in reducing antimicrobial resistance. It also calls for the provision of tools, such as access to patient records, to enable this to happen”.

Resistance to antimicrobials is estimated to contribute to around 25,000 deaths per year in the EU, and around 700,000 deaths per year around the world. In 2015, the UK Government pledged to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing by 50% by 2020.

A spokesperson for the RPS said the policy had been developed “in order to contribute to wider efforts in meeting the challenge set by the UK government”.

The policy document recommends pharmacists to take the lead in developing all national and local action plans for AMS. It also calls for better collaboration across the various health and social care sectors, with pharmacist expertise at the heart of this, to ensure consistency in stewardship.

The policy also outlines a number of actions the RPS will commit to as part of the global effort to reduce antimicrobial resistance. These include developing professional AMS guidance for pharmacists, and liaising with government to ensure recommendations translate into national actions.

Finally, the policy features a broad range of real-world examples from across the sector showing how pharmacists can contribute to AMS in their daily practice — for example, by conducting simple diagnostic tests in the community pharmacy, advising GPs on current best practice in antibiotic use, including AMS pharmacists as part of hospital ward round, and undertaking research into the development of new drugs.

The policy, which is intended to complement other resources, including the Society’s Quick Reference Guide to AMS, and existing recommendations on AMS from the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU) and the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), can be accessed through the RPS website.

RPS campaigns on antimicrobial stewardship

Antimicrobial stewardship has long been a policy and campaign focus of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).

Responding to the UK Government’s Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy, published 13 September 2013, the RPS said that “Training of community pharmacists has the potential to reduce GP consultations by means of public education and symptomatic management of self-limiting infections”. In another response, to a 2014 NICE consultation on guidance for ‘Antimicrobial resistance: changing risk-related behaviours’ the Society said that the “use of minor ailment schemes whereby patients can receive symptomatic treatments for infections can decrease visits to a GP by 50% and reduce the number of prescribed antibiotics”.

In July 2014 the Society, together with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the UK Faculty of Public Health (FPH) published a Joint Statement on Antimicrobial Resistance. Among the recommendations of this statement was a call for antimicrobial prescribing data to be monitored, and for licensing requirements for new antimicrobials changed to include data on the minimum dosage required for clinical effectiveness.

In 2014, RPS Scotland collaborated with the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group (SAPG), Community Pharmacy Scotland and Pharmacy Voice to produce a European Antibiotic Awareness day resource pack for community pharmacists, which included a patient-directed self-care information leaflet for treating infectious ailments. The packs were distributed in November 2014.

Later that month, on European Antibiotic Awareness Day itself —18 November 2014 — RPS Scotland held a parliamentary reception and debate on antimicrobial resistance, sponsored by Jim Eadie MSP. The event led to a Scottish Parliamentary debate on the subject, held on 5 February 2015. Also on European Antibiotic Awareness Day, RPS Wales and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) held a lunchtime discussion with Welsh Assembly Members (AMs) on the use of antibiotics in primary care. During the summit, the two professional bodies called for Wales to commit to a public education campaign on the subject, and greater antimicrobial stewardship.

At the 2017 annual conference, the RPS launched its new GB-wide campaign on antimicrobial stewardship. The campaign aims to show how pharmacists are contributing to a targeted 50% reduction in inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics by 2020. As part of this campaign, the AMS portal— a hub for health professionals co-produced by the RPS and University College London — will be updated and relaunched.

Throughout all antimicrobial campaign and policy activity, the Antimicrobial Expert Advisory Group — chaired by antimicrobial pharmacist Harpal Dhillon —acts to advise the Society and shape policy on the subject.

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Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203477

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