15% of prescribed antibiotics fail


Threat of antibiotic resistance continues

Researchers have discovered that nearly one in seven antibiotic treatments prescribed by GP’s to fight common infections over the past 20 years have failed.

The study by Cardiff University looked at nearly 11 million prescriptions handed out between 1991 and 2012, in a bid to establish the level of antibiotic resistance. The experts found that in just under 15% of cases, the drugs failed, with the rise of antibiotic resistance moving from 13.9% to 15.4% over a 22 year period.

Funded by drugs firm Abbott Healthcare Products, the research looked at patients given antibiotics for infections ranging from skin and ear complaints, to those affecting the chest, throat and sinuses. The biggest period of antibiotic failure was found to be between 2000 and 2012 as patient figures rose from 60% to 65%.

Ineffective treatment

The team analysed which prescriptions were failing by checking which patients needed an alternative treatment within 30 days of the prescription being issued; whether the patient was admitted into hospital; or whether the patient died from an infection-related illness.

Prof Craig Currie, the report author, told BBC News “Given the lack of new antibiotics being developed, the growing ineffectiveness of antibiotics is very worrying indeed. There is a mistaken perception that antibiotic resistance is only a danger for hospital patients. We need to ensure that patients receive the appropriate medication of their condition and minimise any unnecessary or inappropriate treatment which could be fuelling resistance, prolonging illness and in some cases killing people.”