25% of Antibiotics Prescribed in the US Are Unnecessary

January 17, 2019

(Quartz) – When Alexander Fleming was awarded a Nobel prize for his discovery of the antibiotic penicillin, he knew there was a downside to the life-saving drug. In his 1945 acceptance speech, he warned (pdf) of the dangers of “exposing…microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.” And yet, almost three quarters of a century later, it seems many have forgotten his message. A new study published yesterday (Jan. 16) in the BMJ found that in 2016 in the US, roughly a quarter of all antibiotics prescribed were likely for conditions that aren’t caused by a bacterial infection. Conversely, only about 13% of antibiotic prescriptions were likely necessary.

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