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In this Viewpoint, we discuss how the identification of oral antibiotics and their distinction from other commonly used medicines can be challenging for consumers, suppliers, and health-care professionals. There is a large variation in the names that people use to refer to antibiotics and these often relate to their physical appearance, although antibiotics come in many different physical presentations. We also reflect on how the physical appearance of medicine influences health care and public health by affecting communication between patients and health-care professionals, dispensing , medicine use, and the public understanding of health campaigns. Furthermore, we report expert and stakeholder consultations on improving the identification of oral antibiotics and discuss next steps towards a new identification system for antibiotics. We propose to use the physical appearance as a tool to support and nudge awareness about antibiotics and their responsible use.

Original publication





The Lancet. Global health

Publication Date





e1308 - e1313


Department of Medical Microbiology and Radboudumc Center for Infectious Diseases, Radboudumc, Nijmegen, Netherlands.


ABACUS II consortium, Humans, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Health Personnel, Health Facilities, Health Promotion, Delivery of Health Care