Australia’s Health Minister says he wants to ban prescription of antibiotics and related drugs in pharmacies.
Abbott’s move will come after a review of the way in which Australian pharmacies deal with infections caused by the drug azithromycin.
The review will examine whether the country should be forced to make changes to its antibiotic policy, with the potential for the move to affect more than 400,000 pharmacies in Australia, including hospitals, and possibly a large number of pharmacies in overseas markets.
In a statement, Abbott said he had “decided to ban azithromax” because the drugs are widely used in Australia.
“I have also decided that it is the Government’s intention that pharmacies in the country must cease to sell azithrobin as a sole source of medication and in all other circumstances, except in the case of urgent and exceptional cases where there is a medical need,” Abbott said.
He said that when the review was finished, it would look at the possible costs of banning the drug, including the possibility of a reduction in the number of prescriptions.
Azithromycin has been linked to serious infections in people, including pneumonia and sepsis.
While azithrocin is widely used as a drug of last resort, it can cause side effects including fever, fatigue, dizziness and nausea.
Doctors have said the drugs can be used in the setting of infections in the elderly, in people with weakened immune systems, and to treat a variety of infections including sepsi, tuberculosis, pneumonia and urinary tract infections.