Antibiotics Continue To Be Overprescribed

One quarter of the drugs, which combat bacterial infection but are useless against viral infection, are inappropriately prescribed.

The rise of so-called superbugs, infections that are immune to antibiotics, has been laid mostly at the doorstep of the overprescribing of those medications. Well, that overprescribing continues apace, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Their study, published in BMJ, looked at diagnosis codes for about 19.2 million children and non-elderly adults in the U.S. in 2016. About one quarter of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions written for that group were written for adults, the study found.

“Among all outpatient antibiotic prescription fills by 19,203,264 privately insured U.S. children and non-elderly adults in 2016, 23.2% were inappropriate, 35.5% were potentially appropriate, and 28.5% were not associated with a recent diagnosis code,” the study concludes. “Approximately 1 in 7 enrollees filled at least one inappropriate antibiotic prescription in 2016.” 

The study also breaks the problem down regonally, saying that 16% were from the Northeast, 17% from the West, 20% in the Midwest, and 45% from the South.