A new study conducted by Dr. Jeffrey A. Linder, a physician and researcher in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and colleagues published in the Oct. 3, 2013, issue of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that little change has occurred in the prescribing of antibiotics for sore throats and bronchitis despite a ten year effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing in a effort to prevent and constrain the growth of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
In the fourteen year period between 1996 and 2010, the prescribing rate of antibiotics for sore throats in doctor’s offices remained at 60 percent despite a documented need for antibiotics of only 10 percent.
The prescription rate of antibiotics for bronchitis was 73 percent even though antibiotics are effective in only one percent of bronchitis cases. The rate of prescribing antibiotics for bronchitis and sore throat in emergency room visits increased by four percent in the same time frame.
The researchers noted prescriptions for the more expensive antibiotic azithromycin rose to 15 percent of all cases of strep throat in the United States when penicillin would work just as well in most cases.
The objective of the research is twofold. The need to prevent antibiotic-resistant bacteria from spreading is the major concern. Secondarily, the unnecessary cost of prescribing antibiotics places an unnecessary financial burden on patients, insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid.