Australia considers ban on repeat antibiotic prescriptions

Amoxicillin antibiotic drug capsules.
Amoxicillin antibiotic drug capsules.

MEDICOS have welcomed the federal government’s consideration of a ban of automatic repeat prescriptions of antibiotics.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has indicated he is “predisposed” to banning the practice.

Australia’s chief medical officer, along with the expert body that tells the government what drugs to subsidise, has recommended the ban to help fight the outbreak of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

The Australian Medical Association is pleased to hear Mr Hunt’s comments.

AMA president Tony Bartone said the superbugs were becoming an increasing threat around the world, given they could quickly learn to develop a resistance to antibiotics.

“So the antibiotics we have relied on for years become useless,” Dr Bartone told AAP on Thursday.

“In that case, a simple infection in a wound site can become a life-threatening situation.

“Unnecessary repeats lying around in cupboard drawers can lead to overuse of these important medications, and increase antibiotic resistance.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt said there would still be the capacity for patients to get repeat prescriptions if a longer course was necessary.

“We’ll review it shortly but we are generally very predisposed to it,” Mr Hunt told ABC Radio.

“The reason why is because around the world antimicrobial resistance is one of the great threats to the progress of the 20th century which started with penicillin.”

Disease-producing bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis are among those becoming increasingly resistant to major drug classes.