Market Research Suggests Doctors Over-Prescribing Antibiotics

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21st August 2014 15:33 - Health

It has been revealed by experts at Public Health England and University College London that figures for patients receiving antibiotics for minor ailments has rocketed in recent years.

A study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy shows that in 1999, 36% of patients received antibiotic medication for simple coughs and colds.  By 2011 this figure had risen to 51%.

Subsequently, a survey conducted by The Longitude Prize uncovered that out of 1,004 UK GPs:

·         90% felt pressure from patients to prescribe them antibiotics.

·         70% prescribed antibiotic medication because they were not sure whether the patient had a viral or bacterial infection.

·         45% had intentionally prescribed antibiotics to their patients, in the knowledge that they did not need it.

·         28% prescribed antibiotics daily, knowing that the medication may perhaps not actually help the patient.

·         24% said there was a lack of easy to use diagnostic tools, and that this was the reason why they were not sure whether the patient’s infection was viral or bacterial.

Dr Rosemary Leonard related to the difficulties that GPs face, when prescribing antibiotics excessively.  “The more antibiotics taken, the more resistant bacteria come to them, “said Dr Leonard.  “Antibiotic resistance is a real issue and more needs to be done to conserve antibiotics for the future.

“Diagnostics play a valuable role in making this happen.  Not only can diagnostics help determine the type of infection someone has, they could gather valuable data and aid the global surveillance efforts.”

The £10m Longitude Prize will invite entrants to find an easy and cost-effective test for bacterial infections that GPs can use to determine when and whether to give out antibiotics.  This will take place later on in 2014.

Leading the Longitude Prize, Tamar Ghosh, said that the right diagnostic equipment could assist doctors globally, in prescribing antibiotics correctly.  “In the next five years the Longitude Prize aims to find a cheap and effective diagnostic tool that can be used anywhere in the world,” she said.  “We recognise that stemming the misuse and overuse of antibiotics is just one piece of the jigsaw to slow bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

“Nevertheless it’s an important step when we could be waiting many years for other solutions, including novel alternatives to antibiotics coming to the market.”



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