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


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

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

Last week the New South Wales government announced a trial allowing pharmacists to give a range of 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 expand this scope of practice – pharmacists can prescribe medicines for UTIs, after a two-year trial. The state is now trialling a pilot program allowing pharmacists to prescribe for a range of other common conditions.

Proponents of pharmacist prescribing argue it expands health-care options for people who can’t access a GP and highlights pharmacists’ expertise with medicines. Meanwhile, those opposed raise concerns about safety and antibiotic resistance.

So should pharmacists be able to prescribe common medicines such as antibiotics for UTIs? We asked 5 experts.

Three out of five said yes

Here are their detailed responses:

Disclosure statements: 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, GAMA Healthcare, Ian Potter Foundation and Commonwealth (Innovation Connections grant). He is Editor-in-Chief of Infection, Disease and Health; Henry Cutler receives funding from the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association; Jaya Dantas receives funding from Healthway, Lotterywest, & DISER. She is International Health SIG Convenor of the Public Health Association of Australia, a member of the Global Gender Equality in Health Leadership Committee, Women in Global Health, Australia and the President of Australian Graduate Women; Lisa Nissen received funding from Queensland Department of Health to evaluate the implementation of the recent Queensland Urinary Tract Pharmacy Pilot in her previous role at Queensland University of Technology. She is a past president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (Queensland) and past Chairman of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (Queensland); Louise Stone is member of the RACGP, ACRRM and ASPM.

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