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Antimicrobial resistance

Patients commonly ‘self-prescribe’ antibiotics

A quarter of patients would take antibiotics without consulting a medical professional, study finds.

Micrograph of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (pictured) has evolved due to antibiotic overuse

Non-prescription antibiotic use is associated with increased rates of antimicrobial resistance in the community. 

To understand the scale of non-prescription antibiotic use in the United States, researchers conducted a survey of patients from a socio-economically and ethnically diverse primary care population. 

The team, from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, found that among 400 respondents, 5% had used antibiotics without a prescription in the previous 12 months. They were commonly used to treat respiratory tract infections. Overall, 25.4% said they would take antibiotics without consulting a medical professional, and 14.2% reported storing antibiotics at home, most of which were saved from previous prescriptions. 

The findings show that community antimicrobial stewardship must include a focus on non-prescription antibiotics, the researchers conclude in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (online, 11 July 2016)[1].

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/CP.2016.20201420

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Supplementary images

  • Micrograph of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

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