Antibiotics 'Do Not Work'15 Per Cent Of The Time

Antibiotics Can Fail Up To 15 Per Cent Of The Time

26.09.2014

Antibiotics that have been prescribed by GPs may fail as much as 15 per cent of the time, a new study reveals.

A team of researchers from Cardiff University assessed the effectiveness of almost 11 million prescriptions given out between 1991 and 2012, finding that in 15 per cent of cases, the drugs did not work, showing that resistance could be becoming a real problem.

Over the 22-year course of the investigation, the proportion of cases in which antibiotics failed to perform properly increased from 13.9 per cent to 15.4 per cent. However, this rise was not as dramatic as the one scientists expected.

The highest increase in antibiotic failure was recorded between 2000 and 2012, which also happened to be the period when the most drugs were prescribed, indicating a clear correlation between the two events.

During this 12-year period, 65 per cent of patients who visited their GP with a minor complaint were given antibiotics, indicating an increase from the 60 per cent recorded throughout the previous decade.

Lead author of the study Professor Craig Currie explained that with a significant lack of new antibiotic drugs being developed in recent years, immunity could become a prevalent problem, with an increasing number of patients potentially developing more serious illnesses due to regular treatments not working.

He added: "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 for their condition and minimise any unnecessary or inappropriate treatment which could be fuelling resistance, prolonging illness and in some cases killing people."

In light of this, experts are urging GPs not to prescribe antibiotics for minor illnesses, such as colds and sore throats, allowing their effectiveness to be saved for more serious conditions.

Earlier this year, prime minister David Cameron warned that the UK could be heading back towards "the dark ages of medicine", unless something is done to decrease resistance.

Expert Opinion
The reduced efficacy of antibiotics is extremely troubling. Recent studies have indicated that the over prescription of antibiotics may be leading to more resistant strains of illnesses. The practice goes against guidance from the Department of Health and may cause infections to become resistant to medications typically prescribed to cure them.

“Patient care should always be a top priority for GPs and this means not prescribing drugs for conditions that do not require them. It is important investigations are carried out into the frequency with which antibiotics are prescribed and that steps are taken to educate both medical professionals and patients themselves of the risks associated with improper use of antibiotics and how they should be used responsibly.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner