The overuse of antibiotics poses serious public health risks by unintentionally increasing levels of bacterial resistance to them. Goosens et al examine the results of national campaigns in France and Belgium to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics in the latest issue of the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. From the abstract:
Evaluation of these national campaigns showed the importance of television advertising as a powerful medium to change attitudes and perhaps also behaviour with regard to antibiotics. Moreover, in both countries, strong evidence suggested reduced antibiotic prescribing. However, adverse effects associated with a reduction in antibiotic prescribing were not monitored. We conclude that carefully designed mass education campaigns could improve antibiotic use nationally and should be considered in countries with high antibiotic use. However, these campaigns should employ techniques of social marketing and use appropriate outcome measures.