Doctors Issue Guidelines for Limiting Antibiotics Use

ByABC News
March 20, 2001, 9:07 AM

P H I L A D E L P H I A, March 20 -- Doctors should not prescribe antibiotics formost colds, coughs and sore throats because they don't help andtheir overuse is making them less effective against otherinfections, the nation's second-largest doctors' group said Monday.

For most healthy adults, the best treatment for bronchitis, mostsinus infections, colds and coughs is over-the-counter coldremedies, according to the American Academy of Physicians-AmericanSociety of Internal Medicine.

Experts have warned for a decade that overuse of antibiotics iscausing germs become resistant to drugs.

"If we can lower our total antibiotic consumption by 20 or 30percent, we can show an effect in changing the rate of prevalencein these resistance organisms," said Dr. Ralph Gonzales of theUniversity of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that upto half of the 133 million doses of antibiotics administered dailyoutside hospitals are unnecessary because they are being prescribedfor viral infections that don't respond to antibiotics.

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed requiring labelson antibiotics reminding doctors to prescribe them only when trulynecessary.

Doctors often feel pressured to prescribe antibiotics when theyare not needed because patients demand them, said Dr. VincenzaSnow, senior medical associate at the American College ofPhysicians.

The guidelines, presented in Monday's Annals of InternalMedicine, are intended for treatment of healthy adults, and not forpatients over age 65 or people with long-term medical conditionssuch as diabetes.

They were developed by a panel of doctors assembled by the CDCand led by Gonzales. The American College of Physicians-AmericanSociety of Internal Medicine represents 115,000 physicians.