Is this pill an antibiotic or a painkiller? Improving the identification of oral antibiotics for better use

The Lancet Global Health
1 Aug 2023
Annelie A Monnier, Nga T T Do, Kwaku Poku Asante, Samuel Afari-Asiedu, Wasif Ali Khan, Khátia Munguambe, Esperanca Sevene, Toan K Tran, Chuc T K Nguyen, Sureeporn Punpuing, F Xavier Gómez-Olivé, H Rogier van Doorn, Céline Caillet, Prof Paul N Newton,
Proochista Ariana, Prof Heiman F L Wertheim, on behalf of theABACUS II consortium


In this Viewpoint, we discuss how the identification of oral antibiotics and their distinction from other commonly used medicines can be challenging for consumers, suppliers, and health-care professionals. There is a large variation in the names that people use to refer to antibiotics and these often relate to their physical appearance, although antibiotics come in many different physical presentations. We also reflect on how the physical appearance of medicine influences health care and public health by affecting communication between patients and health-care professionals, dispensing , medicine use, and the public understanding of health campaigns. Furthermore, we report expert and stakeholder consultations on improving the identification of oral antibiotics and discuss next steps towards a new identification system for antibiotics. We propose to use the physical appearance as a tool to support and nudge awareness about antibiotics and their responsible use.