Study: Doctors Hand Out Too Many Antibiotic Prescriptions

(April 10, 2013)—Doctors in the U.S. are writing too many prescriptions for antibiotics, a new government study suggests.

Enough antibiotics are prescribed to give them to 4 out of 5 Americans each year.

Overuse is one reason antibiotics are losing their punch, making infections harder to treat and the report released Wednesday provides the first detailed look at use of the medicines in every state.

It finds the use highest in the South and Appalachia.

Antibiotics have been commonly available since the 1940s, and have done wonders at saving patients with infections ranging from pneumonia to sexually spread diseases, but bacteria have increasingly gained the power to shrug off antibiotics.

Experts say chances of resistance increase when antibiotics are not used long enough or are taken for the wrong reasons, allowing bacteria to survive and adapt.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking at least 20 strains of resistant bacteria.

The study's findings are being published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

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