The FDA released a press announcement today to bring awareness to smart use of antibiotics. According to the release, the FDA and CDC are teaming up this week for “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week”, which runs November 15-21. The misuse of antibiotics is pegged as the cause for drug resistant bacterial infections. This information is being shared with the public in advance of the typical cold and flu season to educate consumers about proper antibiotic usage.
The FDA lists three tips to taking antibiotics properly, which include taking all of your medication as prescribed, not saving medication for later use, and not taking or sharing your medication with another person. Antibiotics are prescribed to combat infections based upon many factors, such as which antibiotic typically works best to treat a specific condition. In other words, what might be prescribed for a bacterial sinus infection may not be the best choice of medicine for a bladder infection.
Interestingly, the FDA fingers doctors for over-prescribing, caving into patient demand …
One interesting aspect of the FDA’s press announcement is that it begins with fingering doctors for over-prescribing antibiotics. Patients suffering from a viral infection want antibiotics to cure their illness. The takeaway here should be that doctors need to be firmer with a no when asked for antibiotics when clearly the prescription is not indicated. Not only does caving into patient demand cost patients and insurance companies money that doesn’t need to be spent at pharmacies, it also contributes to antibiotic resistance.
While letting pushy consumers off the hook!
The press announcement carefully tiptoes around the issue of patients outright asking their doctors for antibiotics when they suffer from a virus, such as the common cold. While it does mention this briefly in the opening paragraph (hence, it is an important point), the FDA left this important warning off their list of recommendations, instead focusing on medicine sharing, completing one’s prescription and not saving one’s medicine for later as ways to combat antibiotic resistance. Instead, the FDA should have asked health care consumers to visit their health care providers this cold and flu season without an expectation of leaving with a prescription, thus taking the pressure off a doctor to prescribe an unnecessary antibiotic.
FDA Press Announcement, dated 11/15/2010, retrieved 11/15/2010