Antibiotic Amnesty 2019

Media release: Monday 18 November 2019

This year for World Antibiotic Awareness Week an ‘Antibiotic Amnesty’ will be promoted in participating pharmacies from 18 November through until the end of the year, with the support of the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand and the Ministry of Health.

“Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, but together we can keep antibiotics working,” says Richard Townley, Chief Executive of the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand.

During the ‘Antibiotic Amnesty’ participating pharmacies will be encouraging members of the public to return old and unused antibiotics to the pharmacy for proper disposal by specialist waste disposal companies. The Amnesty will also provide the opportunity for people to talk with their pharmacist about wise use of antibiotics and how they can help prevent antibiotic resistance.

The concept of an ‘Antibiotic Amnesty’ has come from the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust/Imperial College in London, UK where they have taken place in conjunction with World Antibiotics Awareness Week since 2015.

The Society has worked with the Ministry of Health and specialist antimicrobial stewardship pharmacists on developing resources for New Zealand pharmacies to be able to run the Amnesty.

Antibiotic resistance is increasing in New Zealand and around the world.

Antibiotic resistance is a major concern because it means some infections will become more difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat. Medical procedures such as surgery and cancer treatments could become extremely difficult, or impossible, as they rely on antibiotics to manage the risk of infection.

What can I do to help prevent antibiotic resistance?

  • Preventing infections and their spread helps stop antibiotic resistance by reducing the need for antibiotics - regularly wash your hands and keep up to date with vaccinations.
  • If your health professional says you don’t need antibiotics, ask them about other ways to relieve your symptoms.
  • If antibiotics are prescribed for you, follow your health professional’s advice on when and how to take them.
  • Only take antibiotics if they are prescribed for you, don’t use or share leftover antibiotics.
  • Bring any unused antibiotics back to your pharmacy so they are disposed of appropriately.

For more information about antibiotic resistance and how to help prevent it please see the Ministry of Health website:


Download all resources for pharmacies


For further information please contact:
Jo Leahy, Communications Advisor
Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand