Pharmacists around the nation are joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to educate consumers about the appropriate use of antibiotics during this influenza season. Antibiotics are intended to treat bacterial infections, not viruses like the flu. The CDC is observing the second annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, Oct. 5-11, 2009.
The Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program reaches parents, pharmacists and healthcare providers through print advertisements, fact sheets, brochures, posters, radio and print public service announcements, podcasts and mainstream media interviews.
"We are very pleased to have pharmacists as partners in this important effort," said Dr. Lauri Hicks, medical director of CDC's Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program. "They are extremely knowledgeable and can make a big difference in public health."
Doctors often feel pressure from patients or parents to prescribe antibiotics, especially during the flu season. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 50 percent of people who visit their doctor for upper respiratory infections receive an antibiotic prescription. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not the viruses that cause colds or flu, most coughs and bronchitis, sore throats not caused by strep, and runny noses. Taking antibiotics when you don't need them or not as prescribed increases your risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.
Antibiotic overuse is a serious problem and a threat to everyone's health.
"With the extra challenge of an H1N1 flu pandemic, it is more important than ever that patients and parents know that antibiotics do not treat flu," says Hicks. "We encourage patients and parents to talk to their pharmacists, as they are a great free resource for helpful information."
David Burgess, president of the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists, adds: "We are committed to continue creating educational materials and programs that community pharmacists can use to fight the battle of antibiotic resistance."
To help prevent illness, CDC encourages people to wash their hands frequently, use hand sanitizers when hand washing is not feasible, get the flu and other recommended vaccines and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Today, CDC hosted a first-ever retail pharmacy summit which brought together retail pharmacy chains Rite-Aid, Kroger, Giant Eagle and Giant/Stop and Shop, non-profits and advocacy groups committed to decreasing the spread of antibiotic resistance and strengthening the important role of pharmacists in educating patients on remedies for colds and flu.
For more information or to download free educational materials, visit www.cdc.gov/getsmart.