Study says many antibiotics prescriptions unnecessary
The number of antibiotic prescriptions is unnecessarily high across the U.S., according to new research.
The new study, published in an online issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, found a large discrepancy between the number of patients actually requiring antibiotics for sore throats and bronchitis and drug prescription rates.
According to the researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, only 10 percent of adults with sore throat have strep, which requires antibiotics. However, the scientists found that the national prescribing rate of antibiotics for adults with sore throat is 60 percent. For bronchitis, researchers said the prescribing rate for the appropriate antibiotic should be close to zero; the actual prescribing rate, however, is more than 70 percent.
The researchers noted that most cases of sore throat and bronchitis should be treated with rest and fluids and do not require a doctor visit.
Public health experts are concerned about the high rate of unnecessary prescriptions, as they can help cause an increase in superbugs—bacteria that have grown increasingly resistant to antibiotics.
Another consequence of excessive and unnecessary prescriptions is that taking antibiotics for viral infections can do more harm than good. Antibiotics should be used only to treat or prevent infections caused by bacteria, such as strep throat, and not used to treat viral infections, according to the CDC.