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Overuse of Antibiotics Breeds Drug Resistance for Up to a Year

Posted May 20 2010 9:29am
According to British researchers, patients who are over-prescribed antibiotics may develop drug resistance that lasts up to a year. This makes them and the rest of the population more susceptible to problems if more serious treatment is needed.

The researchers analyzed 24 previous studies of antibiotic resistance and found that the more antibiotics prescribed for coughs, flu-like illnesses and urine infections, the more resistant to the antibiotics the bacteria become.

"The effect is greatest in the month immediately after treatment, but may last for up to a year, and this residual effect may be a driver for high levels of resistance in the community," said Alastair Hay, a consultant senior lecturer in primary health care at Bristol University, who led the research.

Experts say the over-prescription of antibiotics is a “vicious cycle” and the only way to turn it around is to prescribe the drugs only when it is absolutely necessary in the first place.

Chantal Morel and Elias Mossialos, specialists in economics and health policy from the London School of Economics, believe financial incentives should be used to encourage drug companies to invest in research to find, test and develop new antibiotics and that there is “a public health as well as economic justification for intervention.”

Brandi Robinson
Tobacco Control Program Associate
Partnership for Prevention
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