Monday, September 01, 2008

Antibiotics Send Thousands to Emergency Rooms

news you may not know
How Much is Enough?

It's not exactly what springs to mind when you think of a drug overdose sending someone to the hospital. Images of back alley deals, dimly lit hallways and dirty needles flood your consciousness. But that's not always the case. In fact, the real culprit may be the usually life-saving gold standard of medications, penicillin.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) find that the good guys don't always yield good outcomes. Antibiotics are truly a miraculous class of drugs, responsible for saving millions of lives. But, because they are so effective, we've adopted a more-is-better attitude. And, say the scientists, that is precisely the problem.

Complications from antibiotic use send an estimated 140,000 people to emergency rooms each year. It accounts for over 19 percent of all drug-related ER visits, with 78 percent of the visits being due to an allergic reaction. The negative reactions may be as simple as a rash, or they may be anaphylaxis, a serious reaction that can be fatal. The final 22 percent of antibiotic-related ER visits are due to errors and the aforementioned overdoses.

We're hooked on antibiotics. Over 100 million prescriptions are written for antibiotics each year. Oh, yes - the pharmaceutical industry has a hand in this as well: they spend over $1 billion each year promoting antibiotics.

So, exercise some caution. Sometimes all that's needed to cure a common cold is a bit of common rest.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read recommendations for the safe use of antibiotics, see this from Johns Hopkins.


Blogger PharmacistMike said...

More proof that even though we think medications are safe they truly are not inert substances and need to be used with prudence. Reducing the use of antibiotics is also extremely important to combat our increasing problems with antibiotic resistance bacteria.

10:13 AM  
Blogger tim said...

Hi Mike.

Yes, for sure. We've really become a pill-popping nation and, sadly, it's often to our detriment. And, you're right - we always believe that medications are safe, so we take them with little thought to the potential negative consequences.

Thanks for stopping by and for the comments. Have a great week,


8:01 PM  

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