Self-prescribing antibiotics is a big problem
Antibiotic use in the absence of a doctor's prescription is common and is contributing to antibiotic resistance, according to new research.
Antibiotic use in the absence of a doctor's prescription is common and is contributing to antibiotic resistance, according to new research. In a survey of 400 adults from the Houston area, 25% of respondents said they would not hesitate to use antibiotics without seeing a medical professional first, and 5% admitted to having done just that within the previous year. The responses indicated that people hoard unused antibiotics from earlier prescriptions or get them from friends and relatives, but 40% of antibiotics obtained without a doctor's order were bought in U.S. stores and pharmacies—even though selling them as an OTC product is illegal. Reporting in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, the study authors speculate that people may be trying to defray the cost of medications and copays. Survey demographics showed a high level of nonprescriptive antibiotic use among the less educated, the young, and users of public clinics. The researchers conclude that self-medicating is ineffective, since most people are trying to nurse symptoms that cannot be treated with antibiotics, such as sore throat or cough. Moreover, overuse and misuse of the antibiotics even for the right conditions can strengthen pathogens against drugs.