Study examines role of seasonal prescribing changes in antibiotic resistance

July 2, 2012

A new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and available online shows how seasonal changes in outpatient antibiotic use – retail sales of antibiotics typically get a boost during the winter – can significantly alter seasonal patterns of drug resistance. The findings suggest that hospital campaigns to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use should be coordinated with efforts in the broader community if they are to be most effective.

In the study, Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in Washington, D.C., and research scholar at Princeton University, and Eili Klein and Lova Sun at Princeton University show a link between changing rates of antibiotic consumption and resistance. They also suggest that restrictions imposed by hospitals may be undermined if usage at the community level is not addressed. "Considering that approximately 260 million antibiotic prescriptions are filled each year," they noted, "individual hospitals' efforts to restrict antibiotic usage are unlikely to have a large effect on certain pathogens unless complemented by and coordinated with campaigns at the community level."

Dr. Laxminarayan and his colleagues demonstrate that highly seasonal temporal relationships exist between some combinations of prescriptions among five classes of (representing almost three-quarters of yearly antibiotic prescriptions) and resistance levels of two bacteria, Escherichia coli and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Specifically, resistant E. coli and MRSA were significantly correlated with lagged for drugs that were highly prescribed, but uncorrelated with antibiotics that were not used as often.

To analyze prescribing patterns, the researchers relied on data collected from U.S. retail pharmacies from 1999 to 2007. Information about resistance came from a repository of test results collected from more than 300 laboratories spread throughout the country. In nearly all cases analyzed, a one-month lag was found between high antibiotic prescription levels and the prevalence of resistant E. coli and S. aureus.

Because the sheer quantity of antibiotic consumption is still the main driver of resistance, Dr. Laxminarayan said, "decreasing inappropriate use through flu vaccinations and better education of both patients and physicians on when to use antibiotics will have an immediate impact." The United States still uses more antibiotics per capita than most comparable countries, and "there is room to lower prescribing without compromising on outcomes." The researchers plan future studies to examine other combinations of antibiotics and resistant bacteria, and to specify subpopulations of the U.S.

Explore further: Roads pave the way for the spread of superbugs

Related Stories

Roads pave the way for the spread of superbugs

September 29, 2011

Antibiotic resistant E. coli was much more prevalent in villages situated along roads than in rural villages located away from roads, which suggests that roads play a major role in the spread or containment of antibiotic ...

Recommended for you

Bile acid uptake inhibitor prevents NASH / fatty liver in mice

September 21, 2016

Drugs that interfere with bile acid recycling can prevent several aspects of NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) in mice fed a high-fat diet, scientists from Emory University School of Medicine and Children's Healthcare of ...

New therapeutic target for Crohn's disease

September 20, 2016

Research from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) identifies a promising new target for future drugs to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The study, published today in Cell Reports, also indicates ...

Mosquitoes, Zika and biotech regulation

September 19, 2016

In a new Policy Forum article in Science, NC State professor Jennifer Kuzma argues that federal authorities are missing an opportunity to revise outdated regulatory processes not fit for modern innovations in biotechnology, ...

Arthritis drug may help with type of hair loss

September 22, 2016

(HealthDay)—For people who suffer from a condition that causes disfiguring hair loss, a drug used for rheumatoid arthritis might regrow their hair, a new, small study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.