CDC: One in Three Antibiotic Scripts Not Necessary

New CDC data show large percentage of antibiotics misused in outpatient settings; CDC fights to stop antibiotic resistance.

So you go to the doctor seeking relief for the cold or flu-like symptoms that are bothering you or your loved one.

But in recent years, the media in general has been hammering at us that taking antibiotics may be unwise.

New data published recently says at least 30% of antibiotics prescribed recently in the U.S. are unnecessary. That’s according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with Pew Charitable Trusts and other public health and medical experts.

The study analyzed antibiotic use in doctors’ offices and emergency departments throughout the U.S. CDC researchers found that most of these unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed for respiratory conditions caused by viruses—including common colds, viral sore throats, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections—which do not respond to antibiotics. These 47 million excess prescriptions each year put patients at needless risk for allergic reactions or the sometimes deadly diarrhea, Clostridium difficile.

The researchers also estimated the rate of inappropriate antibiotic use in adults and children by age and diagnosis. These data will help inform efforts to improve antibiotic prescribing over the next five years.

“Antibiotics are lifesaving drugs, and if we continue down the road of inappropriate use we’ll lose the most powerful tool we have to fight life-threatening infections,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Losing these antibiotics would undermine our ability to treat patients with deadly infections, cancer, provide organ transplants, and save victims of burns and trauma.”

See here for more information on antibiotic stewardship and appropriate antibiotic use for health care providers and patients.

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