Sheffield Hallam MP and medical experts shocked at plans to make antibiotics “freely available”
Olivia Blake has slammed reported plans by Therese Coffey to make antibiotics “freely available” by allowing chemists to prescribe them.
The Sheffield Hallam MP, who studied Biomedical science at The University of Sheffield, tweeted her frustration at the plans made by the Health Secretary.
Olivia Blake tweeted: “I am shocked by Therese Coffey’s plans for antibiotics to be “freely available”. Antimicrobial resistance is a global threat to human health.
“Misuse of the tools we do have means increasing the risk of this threat. She should drop these plans now.”
The Times reported that Therese Coffey has pushed for making antibiotics available by letting pharmacists prescribe them without the advice of a doctor, to patients they believe are suffering from certain conditions.
Dr Robert Fagan, Senior Lecturer in Biosciences at the University of Sheffield, said: “I am absolutely appalled by the minister’s comments. Antibiotics are a very precious resource and must be carefully protected.”
Dr Fagan explains that we are on the cusp of a “post-antibiotic era”. Increasing resistance to our existing drugs means that infections are increasingly harder or impossible to treat.
Researchers in the industry are rushing to address this but Dr Fagan says that they need more time, meaning that antibiotics should only be used when necessary and correctly to minimise the risk of resistance. A process called antibiotic stewardship.
Dr Fagan continued: “The minister’s suggestion runs roughshod over accepted antibiotic stewardship principles.
“Even more harmfully, her comments on sharing her own antibiotics suggest that she has herself broken the most important golden rule of antibiotic use – only ever take a drug that’s prescribed for you and always finish your course as prescribed.”
He warned off choosing to shorten a course of antibiotics as it dramatically increases the risk of resistance developing.
Sharing antibiotics with friends also feeds into the same problem, and raises a risk of serious harm.
In 2019, It was estimated that at least 5,000 deaths are caused each year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections.
Dr Fagan suggested that should antibiotics become less effective, bacterial infections will once again return to be one of the most common causes of death and many routine procedures will become impossible.