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Recent study says antibiotic misuse continues to threaten public health in US

WAUSAU (WAOW) — A recent study by ‘Annals of Internal Medicine‘ says Americans continue to misuse antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription.

Antibiotics are prescribed by doctors to treat bacterial and fungal infections.

Researchers compounded data on nonprescription antibiotic use in the United States from 31 separate studies, due to the criteria used, between 2000 and 2019.

The studies showed storage of antibiotics for future use was most prevalent across the various studies, and by using the drugs for non-prescribed illnesses, it puts you at risk of developing antibiotic resistance.

In the US, 2 million people develop drug-resistant infections every year; 23,000 of those people die from them, according to the CDC.

You may think keeping that old prescription will help but that’s not the case.

“That’s not how, in general, antibiotics work. We try to use the one that’s most specific, that’s going to treat and work in the correct places. Some antibiotics used for a UTI aren’t going to work with an upper respiratory infection,” said Cecilee Billman, pharmacist specialist at Aspirus in Wausau.

Additionally, the medicine needed to treat a drug resistant super bug is costly.

“They’re not cheap, and you’re going to have an inpatient stay, which, again, is not cheap. So, just taking prescriptions that aren’t yours, that aren’t from a license pharmacy — it’s just not a good idea,” Billman added.

With websites now claiming to sell antibiotics, it puts more people at risk because these drugs are unregulated and could be anything.

One of the most common ways people get their hands on non-prescribed antibiotics is from family or simply keeping an old prescription, according to the study.

But what might seem convenient could end up doing more harm than good.

Chase McNamara

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