Pharmacists Play Crucial Role in Antimicrobial Stewardship


Available data indicate that as much as 50% of all antibiotics prescribed for individuals may be either unnecessary or not administered in the most effective manner as recommended.

Antibiotics are essential tools in the fight against bacterial infections, and they have undoubtedly saved countless lives. However, their misuse and overuse have led to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, posing a significant threat to public health worldwide. In response to this looming crisis, initiatives like US Antibiotic Awareness Week—observed most recently on November 18 through 24, 2023—have been established to raise awareness about the responsible use of antibiotics.1 Pharmacists, as trusted health care professionals, play a pivotal role in antimicrobial stewardship, ensuring that antibiotics are used wisely and effectively.

Annually, in the US, a minimum of 2 million individuals contract infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The primary and most significant contributor to the development of antibiotic resistance is the utilization of antibiotics. Available data indicate that as much as 50% of all antibiotics prescribed for individuals may be either unnecessary or not administered in the most effective manner as recommended.2

Image credit: tashatuvango |

Image credit: tashatuvango |

US Antibiotic Awareness Week is a part of globally observed World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), typically observed in November each year. It is a global health awareness campaign, and its primary purpose is to promote the responsible use of antibiotics; educate the public, health care providers, and policymakers about antibiotic resistance; and emphasize the importance of preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics for future generations. The week serves as a platform to engage various stakeholders, from health care professionals to the general public, in discussions surrounding the appropriate use of antibiotics.3

The Rising Threat of Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern worldwide. When bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, common infections can become life-threatening, and routine medical procedures like surgeries and chemotherapy may carry increased risks. Factors contributing to this problem include over prescription, self-medication, and the use of antibiotics in agriculture. The need for responsible antibiotic use is more pressing than ever, and health care professionals are on the front line of this battle.3

The Role of Pharmacists in Antimicrobial Stewardship

Pharmacists are integral members of the health care team and are uniquely positioned to contribute to antimicrobial stewardship.2,4 Their roles encompass various aspects of antibiotic management:

  • Medication Dispensing: Pharmacists are often the final point of contact between health care providers and patients. They can ensure that antibiotics are dispensed according to appropriate guidelines, verify the correct medication and dosage, and educate patients on how to take antibiotics as prescribed.
  • Medication Review: Pharmacists can review patients' medication profiles to identify potential drug interactions, allergies, and duplications. This helps prevent unnecessary antibiotic use and ensures that prescribed antibiotics are suitable for the patient's condition.
  • Education and Counseling: Pharmacists can educate patients about the importance of completing the full course of antibiotics and the consequences of non-compliance. They can also explain potential adverse effects and when to seek medical attention if adverse reactions occur.
  • Collaboration with Health Care Providers: Pharmacists collaborate with physicians and other health care providers to ensure that antibiotics are prescribed only when necessary. They can recommend alternative treatments or narrow-spectrum antibiotics when appropriate, contributing to the overall goal of antibiotic stewardship.
  • Monitoring and Surveillance: Pharmacists can play a role in monitoring and reporting antibiotic usage patterns within health care facilities, helping to identify trends and opportunities for improvement in antibiotic prescribing practices.

Pharmacists are indispensable in these endeavors, as they are uniquely positioned to ensure that antibiotics are prescribed, dispensed, and used appropriately. Their expertise in medication management, patient education, and collaboration with other health care providers makes them key contributors to the fight against antibiotic resistance and the promotion of effective antimicrobial stewardship. By recognizing the vital role of pharmacists and working together, we can combat antibiotic resistance and secure the continued efficacy of these life-saving medications for generations to come.


1. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.,resistance%20and%20improve%20patient%20safety. Accessed on November 9, 2023.

2. Society of Infectious Disease Pharmacists. Accessed on November 9, 2023.

3. World Health Organization. Accessed on November 9, 2023.

4. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists (SIDP). ASHP-SIDP Joint Statement on the Pharmacist’s Role in Antimicrobial Stewardship. Accessed on November 9, 2023.

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