Saskatoon Health Region, pharmacists fight back against growing antibiotic use

A new campaign is suggesting patients across the province stop asking their doctors for antibiotics.

Ad campaign asks patients to stop asking for unnecessary drugs

Doctors are concerned about the spread of drug-resistant 'superbugs'. (CDC/Associated Press)

A new campaign is suggesting patients across the province stop asking their doctors for antibiotics.

According to recent studies, up to 50 per cent of antibiotic prescriptions aren't warranted. Mainly, those prescriptions happen after patients demand antibiotics for illnesses like the common cold.

"Sometimes, people come in and beg for a prescription," pharmacist Loren Regier told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "So, we wanted to take on that angle."

The situation is worse in Saskatchewan. The province is the second highest prescriber of antibiotics in the country.

Now, the Saskatoon Health Region has joined forces with pharmacist group The RX Files to launch an ad campaign to spread awareness.

"There can often be pressure to prescribe," said Dr. Shaqil Peermohamed, an Infectious Diseases specialist with the Saskatoon Health Region. "Our hope with our program is we can establish guidelines and provide clinicians with key decision making tools to decide whether antibiotics are (neccesary)."

There are good reasons as to why doctors want to stop overprescription of antibiotics. More and more diseases are becoming resistant, creating dangerous stiuations in the future.

"I think it's a large concern that we're facing globally," said Dr. Peermohamed. "By 2050, more people will die from antibiotic resistant organisms than cancer and diabetes combined. So, it's critical that we recognize the importance of this issue."

While doctors and pharmacists continue to convince patients, the health region is also working on better diagnostic tests to prove that antibiotics may not be helpful in their particular case.

"Especially as we enter into flu season, there are rapid diagnostic tests that we can do to look for viral pathogens," he said. "If they were positive, then I think you have more support not to use antibiotics in that situation."

with files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning