KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — Some people in the United States are taking antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription, which can lead to drug resistance, a study found.
CNN reported that the research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, which looked at nonprescription antibiotic use in the US from 31 studies between 2000 and 2019, found the prevalence of nonprescription antibiotic use ranging from 1 per cent (clinic patients) to 66 per cent (Latino migrant workers).
Storage of antibiotics for future use ranged between 14 per cent and 48 per cent across all the groups studied, while intention to use nonprescription antibiotics was 25 per cent in one study that asked.
The study focused on patients within and outside health care settings, Hispanics, and injecting drug users. Nonprescription antibiotic use was defined as storing, obtaining, taking or intending to take antibiotics without medical guidance.
“We know that people are using antibiotics that weren’t prescribed to them, which isn’t safe and isn’t good for their health.
“So in order to tackle the problem, we absolutely had to know what was already out there in the literature so we could figure out what the gaps are,” study author Dr Barbara Trautner, an infectious diseases clinician-investigator at the Baylor College of Medicine and the Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center, was quoted saying.
The studies cited several factors driving people to self-treat with antibiotics, such as long wait times at the doctor’s office, costs of doctor visits and antibiotics, and lack of transport among others.
CNN reported that people got nonprescription antibiotics from leftover prescriptions, local markets that sold antibiotics over-the-counter, family and friends, flea markets, health food stores, pet stores, and online. The most common sources of nonprescription antibiotics were leftover prescriptions and family and friends.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two million people in the US get antibiotics-resistant infections annually, with 23,000 dying from those infections.
Antibiotic resistance happens when fungi or bacteria outlast drugs designed to kill them because of exposure to an antibiotic that is used excessively, which can lead to stubborn infections that can only be cured with expensive medicines.