One in three antibiotic prescriptions in US unnecessary, says CDC
Approximately 30% of all prescriptions of antibiotics in the United States are unnecessary, according to new data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Using records from doctors’ offices and emergency departments throughout the country, CDC researchers found that most of these unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed for respiratory conditions, such as common colds, viral sore throats and sinus infections, which are caused by viruses that do not respond to antibiotics.
Not only do these prescriptions enhance antibiotic resistance, they put patients at needless risk of allergic reactions and the often deadly clostridium difficile.
This data supports the government’s national action plan for combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This initiative set the goal of reducing inappropriate outpatient antibiotic use by at least half by 2020.The researchers hope that their findings will represent a benchmark for improving outpatient antibiotic prescribing and use, helping to inform efforts taken across healthcare to achieve the goal of the national action plan.
CDC Director, Tom Frieden, says: “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. Losing these antibiotics would undermine our ability to treat patients with deadly infections, cancer, provide organ transplants, and save victims of burns and trauma.”
Lauri Hicks, director of the office of Antibiotic Stewardship, adds: “Setting a national target to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use in outpatient settings is a critical first step to improve antibiotic use and protect patients. We must continue to work together across the entire health care continuum to make sure that antibiotics are prescribed only when needed, and when an antibiotic is needed that the right antibiotic, dose, and duration are selected.”
The CDC has published their data in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).