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

Victoria is the latest state to move towards prescribing pharmacists, 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 getting at least one in their lifetime.

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Last week the NSW government announced a trial that will allow pharmacists to administer 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 drugs 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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Proponents of pharmacist prescribing argue that it expands healthcare options for people who cannot access a GP and highlights pharmacists’ expertise in medicines. Meanwhile, those opposed raise concerns about safety and antibiotic resistance.

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

Three out of five said yes

Here are their detailed answers:

Disclosure Statements: Brett Mitchell receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council. He has received research funding from NHMRC, HCF Foundation, Medtronics, Australian College of Infection Prevention and Control, Memorial Nursing Centre, Senver, GAMA Healthcare, Ian Potter Foundation and Commonwealth (Innovation Connections grant). He is the editor-in-chief of the journal Infection, Disease and Health; Henry Cutler receives funding from the Australian Health and Hospitals Association; Jaia Dantas receives funding from Healthway, Lotterivest, & DISER. She is an International Health SIG Convener for the Public Health Association of Australia, a member of the Global Committee on Gender Equality in Health, Women in Global Health, Australia and President of Australian Graduate Women; Lisa Nissen received funding from the Queensland Department of Health to evaluate the implementation of the recent Queensland Urinary Tract Pharmacy Pilot Project in her previous role at the Queensland University of Technology. She is Past President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (Queensland) and Past President of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (Queensland); Louise Stone is a member of RACGP, ACRRM and ASPM.

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