The Swiss federal authorities want to introduce binding guidelines on the dispensing and use of antibiotics to stop them being given out too widely, increasing bacteria’s resistance to the drugs. Similar guidelines already in place are currently non-binding and subject to self-regulation by the medical community. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
Data on the distribution and prescription of antibiotics and on the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is already being compiled, but supervision of the overall situation will be boosted as part of the proposed new strategy on antibiotic resistance. The legal framework for an antibiotics database is currently going through parliament.
Meanwhile doctors in Swiss hospitals have been dealing with the effects of a shortage in one of the most widely used antibiotics in primary care.
Augmentin is used to treat a raft of different infections including severe ear, nose and respiratory infections like bronchitis and pneumonia, caused by streptococcus bacteria.
Stocks may soon run out in Switzerland and the rest of Europe, but the doctors’ strategy of using broader range alternatives carries an increased risk of bacteria developing resistance to these life-saving medicines.
The shortage comes at a time when patient requirement for this medicine is at its highest.
Antibiotics work by blocking vital processes in the bacteria, thus helping the body's natural immune system to fight the infection.
Healthcare experts say too little research is being carried into new types of antibiotics, partly because the drugs are less profitable than more specific treatments for diseases such as cancer.