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Menopause and HRT

By Emma Wilkinson

The Government's leading adviser on antimicrobial resistance has launched a stinging attack on moves to make antibiotics widely available over the counter.

Professor Richard Wise, chair of the Specialist Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance, branded Government policy 'perverse' and warned against rumoured plans for OTC antibiotics for respiratory tract infections.

Writing in The Lancet, Professor Wise said the drive by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to move antibiotics such as chloramphenicol OTC could reverse the downward trend in antibiotic use.

He also expressed concerns about proposals, under consideration by the MHRA, to widen independent prescribing of antibiotics by pharmacists and nurses.

Professor Wise told Pulse: 'We don't wish [chloramphenicol] to be a precedent. Many countries are going in the other direction.

'What we are concerned about and very much against is this idea that antibiotics may become more available for many upper respiratory tract infections.

'There have been rumblings that antibiotics for tonsillitis, pharyngitis and acute bronchitis, all of which are viral diseases, will be considered in the future.'

Professor Wise said he was particularly angry that the decision to broaden availability of chloramphenicol eye drops had come after a study, first reported in Pulse, found conjunctivitis was self-limiting in children and did not require antibiotics.

'I suspect the MHRA knew of the research. Pulse knew about it, I knew about it so why wouldn't they?'

The MHRA refused to comment on whether antibiotics for respiratory infections would move OTC, but said widening access to antibiotics would not necessarily increase resistance.

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