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"Antibiotic resistance is an issue for all Canadians" emphasize infectious disease specialists

TORONTO - February 17, 2004 - Canada continues to be a world leader in the fight against antibiotic resistance, according to new data presented today by the National Information Program on Antibiotics (NIPA). NIPA is a coalition of eight leading Canadian physician, pharmacist and patient organizations created in 1996 to inform Canadians about the appropriate use of antibiotics.

The data, compiled by the Canadian Bacterial Surveillance Network (CBSN), show that while the rates of high-level resistance have remained stable, the rate of penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae (PRSP) was slightly lower in 2003 than in 2002 (13.3 per cent vs. 15.0 per cent).

S. pneumoniae is the leading infectious cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and is the most common bacterial cause of community-acquired infections such as bronchitis, sinusitis, middle ear infections and pneumonia.

"We're certainly heading in the right direction," says Dr. Donald Low, microbiologist-in-chief at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and principal investigator, CBSN. "While the news might be good, we have to maintain our vigilance and make sure that we continue to use antibiotics appropriately."

Canadians have access to extremely effective antibiotics, but unless they are used properly, we could lose the effective medications we currently have to fight life-threatening diseases such as meningitis, tuberculosis and pneumonia. Through the appropriate use of and respect for antibiotics, Canadians can play a vital role in making sure that these medications continue to be effective.

Rates of PRSP are significantly lower in Canada than in many other parts of the world, where they range from more than 30 per cent in parts of South America to as high as 80 per cent in Hong Kong and South Africa. In the United States, the latest figures show resistance rates between 30 and 35 per cent.

The national report card on antibiotic resistance was released today as part of NIPA's fifth annual Antibiotic Awareness Week (February 16 to 20). The coalition of physician, pharmacist and patient groups has been working since 1996 to raise awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of using antibiotics wisely. This includes appropriate prescribing by physicians, clear guidance from pharmacists, and compliance by patients when antibiotics are required.

"Consumers have to be aware that antibiotic resistance is an issue for all Canadians - not just for those who have taken a lot of antibiotics. Even those who haven't taken antibiotics for many years can become infected by resistant bacteria that are difficult to treat," says Dr. Fran�ois Boucher, pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Qu�bec and chair of NIPA. "Antibiotic resistance remains a serious global public health threat. NIPA's goal is to remind doctors, pharmacists and patients to use antibiotics wisely."

About NIPA

NIPA's operating costs are underwritten by an educational grant from Pfizer Canada, which created the coalition eight years ago. NIPA's coalition partners are the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Infectious Disease Society, the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Canadian Pharmacists Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Thoracic Society, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and the Canadian Lung Association.

This year, NIPA is continuing its consumer and professional advertising campaign in collaboration with Rogers Media, which donates advertising space in its healthcare publications. NIPA has updated the coalition's website with helpful material on antibiotic resistance. NIPA's Antibiotic Tool Kit continues to be available to physicians and pharmacists to help educate patients on the appropriate use of antibiotics.

NIPA is a member of the Canadian Committee on Antibiotic Resistance (CCAR), an umbrella group funded by Health Canada, which coordinates the efforts of Canadian medical, public health and veterinary groups working to overcome the problem of antibiotic resistance.


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