McMaster researchers to develop national antimicrobial prescribing protocols for the Public Health Agency of Canada

Headshots of Deborah Yamamura and Mark Loeb on a white background

Deborah Yamamura and Mark Loeb, members of McMaster’s Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, are helping develop national guidelines around the prescription of antimicrobial medications in Canada. 

McMaster University researchers are leading the development of national guidelines for the prescription of antimicrobial medications in Canada. 

The new initiative will receive nearly $900,000 in funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada over the next three years. 

The funding, announced by Mark Holland, Canada’s Minister of Health, will support both the development and dissemination of the new guidelines — the former by the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada (AMMI Canada) and the latter by Firstline, a Canadian health technology company.  

“The development, dissemination, update and promotion of national prescribing guidelines for Canadian prescribers will be a key tool in ensuring the appropriate and responsible use of antibiotics for humans and contribute to the overall fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR),” Holland said. “Working together, we will continue to improve the health outcomes for all Canadians.” 

Experts say AMR — a phenomenon through which disease-causing microbes like bacteria evolve to resist antimicrobial medications like antibiotics — is made considerably worse by the overuse and misuse of such drugs. The guidelines will provide prescribers across the country with current information and best practices to help reduce instances of overuse and misuse in Canada.  

Deborah Yamamura, an associate professor in McMaster’s Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and chair of AMMI Canada’s AMR Guideline Steering Group, says that the development of these evidence-based guidelines will indeed optimize the treatment of infections and promote antimicrobial stewardship in Canada.  

“Standardization of prescription practices for the treatment of common infectious syndromes supports one of the key pillars in the Pan-Canadian Action Plan on AMR,” says Yamamura, a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) at McMaster.  

The Action Plan is a government blueprint for addressing the growing drug resistance crisis in Canada.    

The new prescribing guidelines will be based closely on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recently published standards for antibiotic usage, which were also developed by McMaster scientists.  

Mark Loeb, who led the development of the WHO guidelines, will support the development of the new Canada-specific protocols too. He says having such guidelines expressly tailored to Canada’s healthcare system will be critical to slowing the spread of AMR in the country. 

“Having evidence-based prescribing guidelines available to physicians and other healthcare providers directly at the point of care will ensure that patients in Canada are receiving optimal antibiotic therapy,” says Loeb, a professor at McMaster, a member of the IIDR, and a Global Nexus executive committee member. “The guidelines will also serve to extend the utility of these important, life-saving drugs.”  

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