"Sharing prescribed medications, particularly antibiotics, is not only potentially dangerous, but also against the law, and we would ask our Health Secretary to instead support us in encouraging good and safe prescribing practices," he said.
\u201cTh\u00e9r\u00e8se Coffey, the health secretary, has pushed to make antibiotics more freely available and has said that she has previously handed out her own supplies of the medicines to friends and family who were feeling unwell\u201d
— The Times and The Sunday Times (@The Times and The Sunday Times)
While the proposed plans have also prompted concern that making antibiotics easier to access will lead to people becoming more drug-resistant and cause patients to be persistently ill, ultimately adding more strain to the health service.
"Antibiotics are a precious resource and should be prescribed only when absolutely necessary," Dr Van Mellaerts explained on this matter.
"Overusing antibiotics risks making them less effective, and makes some infections increasingly difficult to treat, which can then actually increase pressure on the health service as patients remain unwell."
A number of medical professionals and scientists have taken to Twitter to voice similar criticisms about the "reckless" health secretary.
\u201cThis is staggeringly irresponsible of @theresecoffey & will cause so much more harm than good. \n\nDoctors do not - unlike Coffey - dish out spare antibiotics to our family & friends because we\u2019re painfully aware of the harms of antibiotic resistance. Utter recklessness.\u201d
\u201c*bangs head on desk*\nFor those not a reckless health minister leading by appalling example, see here for why you don't hand antibiotics to your mates like sweets:\nhttps://t.co/RdZy4t13Js\u201d
— Stephen McGann\ud83d\udc99 (@Stephen McGann\ud83d\udc99)
\u201cTo make it easier to get medicines, @theresecoffey has announced a trough of drugs close to their use by date will be available outside all GP surgeries and pharmacies, with a sign saying "help yourself". People will also be able to deposit their unwanted drugs in the trough.\u201d
— Dr Phil Hammond \ud83d\udc99 (@Dr Phil Hammond \ud83d\udc99)
Others in the Twittersphere also agreed, with some added humour.
\u201cTherese Coffey says five second rule should be followed in operating theatres.\u201d
\u201cTh\u00e9r\u00e8se Coffey is a brilliant health secretary because allowing people to purchase antibiotics without a prescription to encourage antibiotic resistance is exactly the type of fucking stupid idea the country needs right now \ud83d\udc4d\u201d
— Jeremy Hunt Parody (@Jeremy Hunt Parody)
\u201cCan't get a GP appointment for the next couple of months. But I've written to Therese Coffey and asked her to send me some antibiotics, so I should be OK.\u201d
On the government's official website, advice posted back in 2015 on antimicrobial resistance reads: "Patients must ensure that they take their antibiotics as prescribed, and do not..." listing "not share with others," as one of the bullet points.
It was also noted by a doctor how doctors could be referred to the General Medical Council if they hand out antibiotics to family and friends.
\u201cWorth pointing out that if I handed out antibiotics to my family & friends, I could rightly be referred to the GMC. So what on earth are you doing practically encouraging this, @theresecoffey?\u201d
A spokesman for Coffey told The Times: “The Secretary of State has explored a range of policy options to relieve pressure on GPs, including whether it is possible to allow greater prescribing by pharmacists – as happens in many places, including Scotland.
"These wide-ranging discussions included reflections on the importance of anti-microbial resistance and societal behaviours around antibiotics."
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