Meds and you

16 November 2006

No evidence for antibiotics

A study has found no evidence that antibiotics are effective against most cases of acute bronchitis, and researchers recommended that doctors stop prescribing the drugs.

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A US study has found no evidence that antibiotics are effective against most cases of acute bronchitis, and researchers recommended that doctors stop prescribing the drugs to treat them.

Prescribing antibiotics to treat short-term bronchitis is unnecessary, since nearly all the causes of such infections are viral and therefore do not respond to the therapy, according to the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"There is a long history of patients receiving antibiotics for acute bronchitis and they have come to expect receiving a prescription for treatment," said Richard Wenzel, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Medicine professor and author of the study.

"Physicians can help patients by not prescribing them antibiotics for acute bronchitis - saving them from potential side effects and unnecessary costs," Wenzel said in a statement.

Acute bronchitis is a common condition caused by inflammation of the bronchi of the lungs. It is found in five percent of adults each year.

Small percentage caused by bacteria
Only a small percentage of acute bronchitis cases - such as whooping cough - are caused by bacteria that physicians can treat, the researchers said.

Wenzel and VCU colleague Alpha Fowler reviewed research studies and clinical trials from around the world to reach their conclusions.

"Physicians should inform their patients that there are no data in the literature to support the use of antibiotics for this condition," Wenzel said.

Antibiotics given over 70% of the time
About 70 to 80 percent of people suffering from acute bronchitis are prescribed antibiotics for treatment that lasts five to 10 days, he said.

The researchers also found that prescription cough medications are prescribed in almost 100 percent of acute bronchitis cases, although there is little evidence they have any effect. – (Sapa-AFP)

Read more:
Too many kids on antibiotics
Older antibiotics fail test

November 2006

 

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