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A third of the antibiotics prescribed by the NHS are given out despite no medical evidence to suggest that they are necessary, England’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies has said.
Doctors hand out antibiotics in order to ‘validate’ that a patient is unwell, Davies claimed, and that In their efforts to boost sales, pharmaceutical companies have contributed to the problem of antimicrobial resistance.
Dame Sally told the Westminster Health Forum: “If I have a say in it bonuses for sales staff are out, dirty effluent are out, and a good many other things.”
A report chaired by Lord Jim O’Neil in 2016 estimated that, unless progress is made, AMR could cost approximately 10 million lives a year by 2050.
Davies noted that around 33% of all prescriptions for antibiotics are recorded with no associated diagnosis. Prior research has found that around 20% of antibiotics prescribed by GPs are handed out inappropriately.
“It is really difficult at the moment in the NHS to know what’s used where and how often,” she said.
“A third of prescriptions do not have an associated diagnosis - people are not using the NICE guidelines. There is a difference between what’s needed physically and what’s needed socially.
“Doctors think patients are asking for antibiotics, but actually when you talk to them they are asking for validation that they’re sick and antibiotics are the best way.”
The NHS has made progress in recent years, with a 7.4 per cent reduction in the amount of antibiotics prescribed between 2014 and 2017.
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