Should pharmacists be able to prescribe common medicines like antibiotics for UTIs? We asked 5 experts

Victoria is the latest state to move towards pharmacist prescribing, with Premier Daniel Andrews promising a trial to allow pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections (UTIs) and other conditions if re-elected.

UTIs are common, especially among women, with half having at least one in their lifetime.

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Last week the New South Wales government announced a trial to allow pharmacists to administer various travel vaccinations and prescribe antibiotics for UTIs. And on Tuesday, the Northern Territory passed legislation to expand the role of pharmacists.

Queensland was the first state to extend this scope of practice – pharmacists could prescribe the drug for UTIs after a two-year trial. The state is now testing a pilot program that allows pharmacists to prescribe for a range of other common conditions.

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Supporters of pharmacist prescribing argue that it expands health-care options for people who cannot access a GP and highlights the pharmacist’s expertise with medicines. Meanwhile, opponents raise concerns about safety and antibiotic resistance.

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So should pharmacists prescribe common medications such as antibiotics for UTIs? We asked 5 experts.

Three out of five said yes

Here are their detailed responses:

Disclosure Statement: Brett Mitchell Receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council. He has received research funding from the NHMRC, HCF Foundation, Medtronics, Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control, Nurses Memorial Centre, Senver, Gamma Healthcare, the Ian Potter Foundation and the Commonwealth (Innovation Connection Grant). He is Editor-in-Chief of Infection, Disease and Health; Henry Cutler receives funding from the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association; Joy Dantas Receives funding from Healthway, Lotterywest, and DISER. She is the International Health SIG Convenor of the Public Health Association of Australia, Global Gender Equality in Health Leadership Committee, Women in Global Health, Australia and President of Australian Graduate Women; Lisa Nissen In his previous role at the Queensland University of Technology he received funding from the Queensland Department of Health to evaluate the implementation of the recent Queensland Urinary Tract Pharmacy Pilot. He is past president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (Queensland) and past chairman of the Hospital Pharmacists Society of Australia (Queensland); Lewis Stone Member of RACGP, ACRRM and ASPM.

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