A New York-based e-pharmacy has seen a significant backlash to its subway advertising, which NPS MedicineWise has labelled “dangerous”

Capsule, a recent startup which says it prides itself on “prescription delivery, smart refills, and love,” and which claims to be “a pharmacy nothing like a pharmacy”, has attracted attention with its latest advertising campaign.

Famously stand-offish New Yorkers had a sense of humour about one of the ads:

But it’s the other ad which has caused criticism.

AJP spoke with NPS MedicineWise chief executive Lynn Weekes AM, who says that “this message is dangerous on a number of levels”.

“Firstly it reinforces the myth that antibiotics can be used to treat viruses like colds and flu, when all the evidence shows that antibiotics will have no effect on viruses such as colds and flu,” she says. “They are only effective against bacterial infections.

“Secondly it raises the expectation among consumers that they should ask for antibiotics for colds and flu or even, as in this case, as a precaution against developing symptoms. It is these behaviours which contribute to antibiotic resistance.”

She points out that NPS MedicineWise has for the past five years led an ongoing education campaign in Australia on antibiotic resistance, working with pharmacists, GPs and consumers to provide them with information and resources about inappropriate use, prescribing of antibiotics and what they can do to help combat antibiotic resistance.

“Australian pharmacists have an important role to play in combating antibiotic resistance by continuing to talk face to face with consumers about what antibiotics should be used for and when they are not appropriate,” she says.

“We also encourage pharmacists to help educate consumers by giving them guidance on how to use antibiotics, such as completing the full course and not asking your doctor to prescribe them for colds and flu.”

Information and resources about what pharmacists can do to combat antibiotic resistance are available at www.nps.org.au.