According to a report published by the CDC in 2013, nearly half of the prescriptions written today are for antibiotics and nearly half of those are not necessary or the best therapy option. This has resulted in an astounding 2 million US citizens developing severe infections from resistant strains of bacteria. Furthermore, nearly 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. To help educate the public about the dangers of antibiotic resistance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched “Get Smart About Antibiotics” week November 16-22, 2015. The purpose of this week is to raise awareness about the issue of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use or “antibiotic stewardship”. The term “stewardship” carries an ethical connotation that embodies responsible planning and management of resources by those who use them. Antibiotics are invaluable resources that have saved millions of lives and as such, each person has a duty to use them responsibly.
One factor contributing to resistance is when a person who does not need antibiotics takes them. For example, someone infected by a virus, such as the common cold, would not benefit from taking an antibiotic. Instead, the drug will attack the natural, helpful bacteria in this person’s body. When bacteria are exposed to the same antibiotics over and over, they learn how to fight off those drugs and become resistant. These resistant bacteria can then multiply, making more resistant bacteria, and the cycle continues. Eventually, bacteria that could once quickly be stopped by antibiotics are no longer so easily destroyed. This puts everyone at risk, but by raising awareness, the CDC hopes to stem the tide of resistance.
This year’s Get Smart Week serves as a key initiative for antibiotic stewardship within communities and healthcare facilities. In order to get involved, the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy is hosting a Student Convocation in November to discuss the role pharmacists’ can play in the fight against antibiotic resistance. Dr. Jessica Sobnosky, an Antimicrobial Stewardship and Infectious Diseases Clinical Pharmacist from King’s Daughters Medical Center and Dr. Jessica Robinson, an Assistant Professor from the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, as well as Infectious Diseases Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at Charleston Area Medical Center, will be sharing their experiences and encouraging students to get involved. In order to gain further insight, Dr. Glenn Ridenour, an Infectious Disease Specialist from Charleston Area Medical Center, will be joining Dr. Sobnosky and Dr. Robinson for a Q&A panel following the convocation. The UCSOP Class of 2017 will be following this event with a health fair at the Charleston Town Center on Friday, November 20th in order to engage the public on a direct level and share what they have learned about antibiotic stewardship.
Antibiotic stewardship is one small step towards improving appropriate antibiotic use. Our hope is to get as many students involved in this campaign as possible, so we can reach the community at large. For more information, you may visit the CDC’s Get Smart page at http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/week/