Public urged to return old antibiotics

Antibiotics can be put into a special box Bag/keystone-sda/severin Bigler

The Swiss population is being called upon to return surplus antibiotics to their doctor or pharmacy, as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the growing problem of antibiotics resistance.

This content was published on November 15, 2019 - 12:48

The Switzerland-wide Antibiotics Return Campaign, which starts on November 18 and runs until the end of the month, is being launched to coincide with the World Antibiotics Awareness Week, Federal Office of Public HealthExternal link officials said on FridayExternal link.

Antibiotics are among the most significant advances in modern medicine and can be used to treat conditions such as pneumonia or septicaemia which were often fatal in the past. They are also used to help animals. But if antibiotics are overused or misused, bacteria develop resistance and the drugs lose their effectiveness. 

“By returning old antibiotics, everyone can help reduce the risk of resistant bacteria,” said the Federal Office of Public health on its campaign website, use-wisely-take-preciselyExternal link.

It added that it was not permitted to throw out-of-date or unused medicines in the bin or flush them down the lavatory in Switzerland because of the risk that antibiotics could be released into the environment or groundwater.

The campaign, which features posters and advertisements with animated animals and figures, has the support of the main organisations representing doctors, pharmacists, dentists and vets.

External Content

Worried about the rise in antibiotic resistance, the government launched its National Strategy on Antibiotic ResistanceExternal link in 2015. It has now stepped up its information campaign after finding gaps in the public’s knowledge.

A statement said on Friday that the campaign had achieved some successes in terms of use and prescription – also observed last year – but this latest move is intended to “reinforce the results”.

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