Red alert over use of antibiotic medication

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A red alert has been issued over the misuse of antibiotics which can lead to the drugs becoming less effective in tackling infections.

People who get prescription medicines during April will receive their drugs in a red pharmacy bag after an antibiotics awareness campaign was launched by Leeds health bosses.

They hope the Seriously Resistant campaign will lead to a reduction in the misuse and overuse of the drugs.

People are being advised to make sure they complete the full course of antibiotics if they are prescribed the medication and never to save them for future use.

Health bosses also stressed that antibiotics are not effective in treating viral infections and should not be taken for coughs, colds, a sore throat or some chest infections.

Public Health England has estimated that 5,000 people die every year in the country because antibiotics no longer work for some infections.

Philomena Corrigan, Chief Executive of NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “It is really important we take action now so that we can ensure antibiotics continue to work when we really need them.

“If your GP has prescribed you antibiotics, it’s important that you finish the full course, don’t save them for future use, and never share them with others.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that global action is needed to tackle antimicrobial resistance - the declining effectiveness of antibiotic drugs - which could turn the clock back to a time when minor infections could be deadly.

Health organisations, pharmacies and Leeds City Council are taking part in the Seriously Resistant campaign.

Dr Ian Cameron, the council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Without taking action now we might head into a future where infections and minor injuries kill again.

“We are working with healthcare professionals who prescribe treatments to make sure we make the most appropriate use of antibiotics and my pledge is to continue this education and awareness.”

Marketing agency Magpie has been hired to promote the Seriously Resistant campaign.

Becky Dam, who is leading the marketing campaign, said: “We want Leeds to lead the way in the fight against superbugs and be the city that’s making the most impact towards antibiotic resistance.

“Switching regular prescription bags for standout red ones highlights the severity of this threat to the future of healthcare.

“Antibiotic resistance is avoidable if we pledge to take action together.”

To find out more about the campaign log on to

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria adapt so they can withstand the drugs commonly used to kill them.

Health bosses say that without effective antibiotics, minor infections could become deadly and many medical advances could be at risk.

Even routine surgery, chemotherapy and caesareans could become too dangerous.

Among the causes of antimicrobial resistance is the overuse of the drugs in people and animals, as well as poor infection prevention and control.