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Study Shows Doctors Prescribe Powerful Antibiotics Too Frequently

Filed August 20th, 2013 Laurie

According to recent studies, doctors are over-prescribing powerful antibiotics like Cipro with increasing frequency, even though narrow-spectrum antibiotics are capable of killing many infections while targeting a smaller number of bacteria.

A number of professional organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and public-health groups like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are putting pressure on doctors to limit their use of “Big Gun” antibiotics like fluoroquinolones, which includes ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin, as well as azithromycin, which is sold by one drug maker under the brand name Zithromax, or Z-Pak. Overuse of these medications can result in making the drugs less effective against bacteria by fostering the growth of antibiotic-resistant infections. They can also wipe out the body’s good bacteria, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Researchers from the University of Utah and the CDC found that 60 percent of the time doctors prescribe wide-spectrum antibiotics, when narrow-spectrum antibiotics like penicillin, amoxicillin and cephalexin would have most likely done the trick.

“There is overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics both in situations where a narrower alternative would be appropriate and in situations where no therapy is indicated at all,” Adam Hersh, assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Utah and a study author, told the Wall Street Journal.

Experts say broad-spectrum antibiotics should only be used for serious conditions, such as when a patient is in the hospital and numerous courses of other antibiotics haven’t worked. Patients that are at risk for infection with resistant bacteria because of repetitive or prolonged antibiotic exposure might also do better on broad-spectrum antibiotics, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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