The change to antibiotics labelling in Australia will reinforce a doctor's need to explain how many days people take an antibiotic for  


Antimicrobial resistance can be accelerated when microbes are exposed to more antimicrobial medicine than is absolutely necessary (Credit: Pixabay)

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has announced that, from this month, antibiotics labelling has changed in the country.

Antibiotics dispensed by Australian pharmacies will be labelled with instructions that they’d be taken for a defined number of days according to the prescribers’ instructions, and not until all the medicine is used, which was the previous advice to consumers.

According to the Australian government’s Department of Health, this change is incredibly important for both optimising patient outcomes and continuing to fight against antimicrobial resistance.

Under the new guidance, patients should stop taking the antibiotic when the prescribed duration is complete and unused antibiotics should be returned to the pharmacy for disposal.

Commenting on the change, Australia’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly said: “Whilst we’re in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic, we have to remember there are other issues that are important for the health of the nation and the world, in fact.

“And antimicrobial resistance, especially antibiotic resistance, is one of the biggest public health issues that we face.

“And so the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia is to be applauded for changing the way pharmacists are labelling antibiotics that they dispense.

And this is to support best practice of antimicrobial prescribing and their use.

“And so, from this month, antibiotics dispensed by Australian pharmacists will be labelled with instructions that they are to be taken for a prescribed and definite number of days, according to the prescriber’s instructions.

“Not the whole package necessarily, but what is necessary, and only what is necessary for that antibiotic to work effectively.”


Antibiotics labelling change in Australia reinforces a doctor’s need to explain how long an antibiotic should be taken for

Antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally when germs such as bacteria and viruses, including those which cause illness, are exposed to treatments like antibiotics and antivirals.

This can be accelerated when microbes are exposed to more antimicrobial medicine than is absolutely necessary – and when that occurs, resistance to current medicines increases and can become less effective.

The new antibiotic labelling guidelines reinforce the need for doctors to explain to patients how many days they should be taking the antibiotic for, and that they should not include a repeat prescription by default.

In addition, pharmacists will confirm with patients as part of dispensing antibiotics that they understand for how long they should take their medicine, as well as making sure any repeat prescription is clinically appropriate.

According to Australia’s Department of Health, patients may still find contrary advice, particularly in the Consumer Medicine Information leaflets which accompany antibiotics, encouraging them to take prescribed medicine until it is all used.

These will eventually change but until it does, the patient’s doctor and pharmacist are the best sources of advice about how long they should take their medicine.