While the main reason to use antibiotics only when needed is to preserve their effectiveness, it’s always nice to have an economic incentive coupled with proper use of these important drugs. From the Guernsey Press and Star:
The States prescribing support unit is claiming success in a campaign to encourage islanders to think more carefully about their need for the drugs.
Prescriptions fell by 983 courses – a reduction of 3.3% on the previous year – between October 2005 and March 2006, reducing costs to the States by £30,000.
‘That is a significant reduction in what is the peak season for antibiotics use,’ said prescribing adviser Geraldine O’Riordan.
Social Security minister Mary Lowe said: ‘The saving to the Guernsey health service fund is very welcome.
‘But the professionals will tell you that there are also important health reasons for using antibiotics only when they are really needed.
‘It is vitally important that we continue to reinforce this very important message. I hope that all will think more carefully about our use of antibiotics to treat minor illnesses.’
Director of public health Dr David Jeffs, who also chairs the island’s infection-control committee, said that resistance to antibiotics was an increasing problem and poor prescription and administration were major contributing factors.
‘Antibiotics certainly aren’t indicated for uncomplicated viral infections, while many milder bacterial infections will resolve in a couple of days without more active treatment.
‘It makes little sense getting a script for a five-day course of antibiotics for something which would have got better in two, especially if this is going to contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.’
The aim of the winter campaign was to support local doctors in changing patient expectations about antibiotic treatment.
One advantage of a national healthcare system that is not built around the profit motive is that it is able to anticipate and address emerging problems. Because all the costs in a national system are internalized, whereas in a for-profit system the costs are often externalized, the economic burden of antibiotic resistance can not be pawned off onto someone else. Of course, it’s not just about the money: 14,000 people per year die from hospital-acquired antibiotic resistant bacterial infections–and this is probably a massive underestimate due to reporting ‘errors.’
Antibiotic resistance: one more reason why the U.S. needs a national healthcare system