NPS shows drop in antibiotic requests

new antibiotics: gloved hands holding two antibiotic capsules

The percentage of consumers who report asking doctors for antibiotics dropped from 17% in 2014 to 13% in 2015, while programs across seven different therapeutic areas in the 2013-14 financial year returned cost savings to the PBS of $69.24 million, according to the 2014-15 Annual Evaluation Report from NPS MedicineWise.

NPS MedicineWise CEO Dr Lynn Weekes says the report, published this week, provides a snapshot of progress and key achievements in the organisation’s quest to improve health and economic outcomes for all Australians.

“The 2013-14 financial year was a busy one, with some excellent outcomes from our work in fighting antibiotic resistance, in returning significant savings to PBS expenditure, and in reducing expenditure on CT scans and vitamin D tests,” says Dr Weekes.

“Our general practice data and quality improvement program MedicineInsight has recruited over 500 general practices, which represents over 2,000 GPs and 2.5 million active patients across Australia.

“Importantly, practices believe that participating in MedicineInsight has positively impacted on their clinical practice and how they think about their patient care.

“Practices demonstrated improvements to patient care after participating in a MedicineInsight quality improvement activity, with 23% of practices showing a ≥3% improvement in patients’ blood pressure and HbA1c targets.

“And our overall reach has continued to grow, with more than 5.5 million visits to our website and 2.9 million Twitter and 4.6 million Facebook views in 2014-15, more than 30,000 unique learners completing at least one of our 26 online courses for health professionals, a readership for our journal Australian Prescriber of 52,000, and our new medicines publication RADAR distributed to almost 80,000 health professionals, an increase of 6% on the previous year.”

The report also highlighted that:

  • the PBS savings reported in 2015, representing data for the 2013-14 financial year, totalled $69.24 million. NPS MedicineWise quality use of diagnostic programs delivered $11.60 million savings from reduced expenditure on CT scans for the period July 2013 to February 2015, and $21.45 million savings for reduced expenditure on vitamin D tests for the period November 2013 to October 2014;
  • a cost benefit analysis found that for every $1 invested in the NPS MedicineWise program ‘Balancing benefits and harms of antipsychotic therapy’, $2.40 in benefits was generated, including 177 averted strokes and a 7.3% reduction in modelled PBS prescription volume for those aged over 70 year with an estimated saving of over $4 million as well as over $2 million in savings for state hospitals;
  • GPs who participated in the ‘Promoting safe use of medicines in older people’ program were significantly more knowledgeable than those who did not participate regarding some of the triggers for reviewing a patient’s medicine. Significantly more GPs who participated in the program (64%) correctly stated they would always consider withdrawing benzodiazepines when there is a decline in a patient’s cognition and psychomotor skills, compared to GPs who did not (54%); and
  • a retrospective cohort study using linked data sets showed that the NPS MedicineWise hypertension management program resulted in the intervention group being less likely to be initiated fixed dose combination antihypertensive drugs than the control group.


“The information in our Annual Evaluation Report is used to understand what we’ve achieved and where and how improvements can be made to ensure better health outcomes through our current and future work,” says Dr Weekes.

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