Health officials in East Sussex are using a cartoon character to help them get the message across to local people about the correct use of antibiotics.
The pharmacy team at NHS Hastings and Rother say local GPs are often under enormous pressure to prescribe the drugs when they are not appropriate for the illness.
Thousands of posters and leaflets are being sent out to GP surgeries and community pharmacies across East Sussex.
They will explain how antibiotics will not cure colds, most coughs and most sore throats and how "bugs" can build up a resistance to antibiotics and overuse can make them ineffective.
The campaign uses a cartoon detective - Moxy Malone - to show how antibiotics are no use against a virus such as a common cold.
Sue Mills, Head of Medicines Management at NHS Hastings and Rother, says:
"Some patients believe that antibiotics offer a ‘cure all’ remedy for every illness and ask for antibiotics when they are not needed."
“It’s really important that we give people clear information about antibiotics as many people just aren’t aware that they don’t work on viruses which cause coughs and colds.
Also, over-use of antibiotics can make them less effective when they are really needed. ”
Another focus of the campaign is to raise awareness of how prescribing antibiotics when they are not needed may make people more vulnerable to other illnesses.
Patients who have been treated with broad spectrum antibiotics are those most at risk of infection .
Non-prescription pads have also been produced for GPs and pharmacists to hand to patients to provide advice on how to manage their cough and cold symptoms, when they are not prescribed antibiotics.
Mike Hedley, Community Pharmacy Development Manager , says:
“Antibiotics, when used appropriately, save many lives but using them when they aren’t necessary can leave people susceptible to other infections - such as Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff).”
“It’s important we raise awareness of the best use of antibiotics so people are sure when they are most effective.
If patients are prescribed antibiotics, they should not stop taking them as symptoms get better but finish the course as prescribed - unless a doctor or pharmacist advises otherwise.”
The campaign, which runs from March to through April will remind patients and GPs that antibiotics will not get rid of colds, most coughs and most sore throats and that overuse of them can increase the spread of antibiotic resistant infections such as Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff).
GPs will also be reminded that inappropriate prescribing must be cut to delay the development and spread of antibiotic resistance.