SUPERBUGS; GPs Are Handing out Antibiotics like Sweeties, Now We Could Lose Our Resistance against The

By Palmer, Jill | The Mirror (London, England), September 4, 1998 | Go to article overview

SUPERBUGS; GPs Are Handing out Antibiotics like Sweeties, Now We Could Lose Our Resistance against The


Palmer, Jill, The Mirror (London, England)


BRITONS are taking too many antibiotics - and it's putting us in peril from a new breed of superbugs.

A shocking Government report yesterday warned that unless the abuse of antibiotics is stemmed we face "darker times" in medicine.

It said that the emergence of bacteria with immunity to antibiotic drugs may leave doctors powerless against illnesses such as meningitis and tuberculosis.

"The spread of resistance threatens a return to times when surgery was restricted to simple operations on the otherwise healthy, and when organ transplants, joint replacements and immunosuppressive therapies were unthinkable," the report said.

Almost 50 million prescriptions for antibiotics are dished out annually by GPs in England, costing the NHS pounds 172 million.

One in three are unnecessary and mainly for viral infections - against which antibiotics have no effect.

The hard-hitting report from the Government's Standing Medical Advisory Committee called on GPs to:

STOP prescribing antibiotics for simple coughs and colds.

STOP prescribing antibiotics for viral sore throats.

LIMIT prescribing for uncomplicated cystitis to three days.

NOT prescribe antibiotics over the telephone unless there are exceptional circumstances.

And it wants a public awareness campaign to discourage patients from expecting the drugs for minor infections.

"Excessive prescribing of antibiotics for trivial and non-bacterial infections in primary care partly reflects consumer pressure," says the report.

"Patients should be encouraged to take control of their own health care but, without appropriate advice, this may lead to increased demand for inappropriate treatment such as antibiotics for colds, flu or sore throats. …

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