A EUROPEAN tax may be required on antibiotics in the future, according to a GP and medical professor.
Dr Andrew Murphy, a GP in Turloughmore, Co Galway, said he believed there would be action from Europe coming up to Horizon 2020, the EU framework on research and innovation that will specifically look at antibiotic resistance. One possible outcome will be a tax on antibiotics.
"We're beginning to appreciate that the resources we have are to be treasured and come at a cost. The question is how as a society we determine that cost and apportion it," he said.
Comparing any possible tax to the carbon tax, Dr Murphy, pictured, said he believed Ireland was well positioned to be a front-runner in any such experiment.
"We are relatively easy to study antibiotic consumption, we can make big switches. Trying to switch 45,000 GPs in the UK is difficult, we've only 2,500 GPs here and a limited number of very large hospitals," he said.
Dr Murphy said he believed expectations of patients had also changed – with people now more aware about over-usage of antibiotics. "Definitely people are asking a lot more about antibiotics and whether they need them," he said.