NPS Media Releases – 1. Sneezing Billboards 2. Doctor’s Bag App

17 JULY 2015

Many Australians are doing a double take this week as they walk past ‘sneezing billboards’.

The sneezing posters—which depict a man with a head cold mid-sneeze—carry the health messages ‘don’t pass on your germs’ and ‘practise good hygiene’. They are part of the next phase of the nationwide NPS MedicineWise campaign to spread the knowledge that ordinary colds and flu can be managed without antibiotics.

With much of Australia experiencing a cold snap as winter sets in, it’s a crucial time of year for raising awareness about the management of viral colds and flu.

“We’re stressing the importance of good hygiene this cold and flu season as it’s important to know how to prevent the spread of colds to others,” says Dr Andrew Boyden, NPS MedicineWise clinical adviser.

To prevent the spread of colds and flu: cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing; keep hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth; use tissues to blow your nose and throw them away after use; wash your hands with soap, particularly before preparing, touching or eating food and after blowing your nose; and avoid sharing cups, glasses and cutlery.

Along with good hygiene, Dr Boyden stresses the importance of not expecting antibiotics to treat ordinary colds and flu.

“Resting and treating the symptoms is the best course of action, and that’s because these typical winter illnesses are caused by viruses—not bacteria—so antibiotics won’t help,” he said.

“People with flu who are generally healthy will get better without any treatment, because the body’s immune system can take care of the infection on its own. But it’s also important to note that some people with underlying health conditions that make their immune system less able to fight the infection may in fact be treated with antibiotics as the risk of secondary bacterial infection is higher. In these cases, antibiotics should be taken as prescribed by a health professional.

“So this winter we’re urging people to not ask for antibiotics when they don’t need them, and to let their doctor know that they only want antibiotics if they are truly necessary.”

Dr John D’Arcy joins the fight

As an adjunct to the sneezing billboards, popular television GP Dr John D’Arcy is appearing in a new NPS MedicineWise community service announcement for television and social media channels to explain the concept of antibiotic resistance and how our personal behaviours—such as asking for antibiotics for colds and flu, and not taking antibiotics as prescribed—contribute to the problem of the development and passing on of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

NPS MedicineWise is delivering these health messages this winter as the issue of antibiotic resistance needs personal action from Australians now. The World Health Organization has warned that antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health today. Australia has one of the highest prescription rates globally, with around 29 million prescriptions for antibiotics issued each year.

View the community service announcement at  

Sneezing billboard locations

The sneezing billboards are located in Sydney in Chatswood and Darling Harbour, and in Melbourne at Flinders Street Station and Southern Cross Station.

For more information about the NPS MedicineWise antibiotic resistance campaign visit


17 JULY 2015

A new smartphone app—designed to support Australian health professionals during emergencies—has been officially launched by Australian Prescriber and NPS MedicineWise.

The Doctor’s Bag is a free app that provides recommended doses for drugs in the PBS Prescriber Bag, including calculators for weight-based dosing in children. It also provides a step-by-step guide for the management of anaphylaxis based on theAustralian Prescriber anaphylaxis wall chart.

It acts as an emergency backup, providing reassurance that the correct dose has been given. It can also be used as an educational tool in non-emergency settings, with information kept up to date as the contents of the PBS Prescriber Bag change.

Editor of Australian Prescriber, Dr John Dowden, says the new Doctor’s Bag app is an innovative, potentially life-saving tool that was developed after extensive market research including focus groups with GPs.

“When Australian Prescriber updated the emergency drug doses list in February 2012, a number of readers asked for something to replace the older dose card format,” said Dr Dowden.

“In an age where smartphones and mobile devices are ubiquitous, it made sense to explore this option. After many phases of research and testing, the idea for The Doctor’s Bag app—an app that combined emergency drug doses and the anaphylaxis wall chart—was formed.

“The result is a very useful tool for GPs that meets an important need in the community.”

For more information go to

To download the app on an Apple or Android device, search for The Doctor’s Bag on app stores.

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