George Winter provides an overview of recently published articles that may be of interest to practice nurses. Should you wish to look at any of the papers in more detail, a full reference is provided
Many health agencies, including the World Health Organisation, employ a ‘One Health’, intersectoral approach to address the challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). However, according to Lyall et al (2023) such mitigation efforts are complicated by the growth of online pharmacy services and their marketing of antimicrobials. Considering the problem posed by the easy online availability of antimicrobials through digital pharmacy marketplaces, Lyall et al (2023) note that the COVID-19 pandemic ‘has helped to normalise digital healthcare and contactless prescribing, amplifying the need for caution.’
Little is known, the authors state, about how antibiotics are consumed via digital pharmacy and what the implications are for AMR prevention. Citing a 2015 database that estimated between 2000 and 3500 merchants were operating some 35000 websites, unregulated online pharmacies provide consumers with direct access to medications without gatekeepers like doctors and pharmacists.
One key finding highlighted is the paradox whereby the legitimate online pharmacy sector does relatively little to engage consumers, yet on the other hand ‘unregulated e-pharmacies provide consumers with copious information of dubious soundness.’ The overall impact of this ongoing ‘pastiche medicine’ pattern of absence and overcompensation, claim the authors, is to increase the volume of poorly communicated advice that may compromise mitigation efforts to reduce the use of antimicrobial agents.
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