Nonprescription antibiotic use a cause for concern

Some people in the U.S. are using antibiotics without a prescription, a trend that could increase the threat of drug resistance, according to new research.

The study defined nonprescription antibiotic use as obtaining, storing, taking or intending to take antibiotics without medical guidance. It analyzed data on nonprescription antibiotic use in the U.S from 31 studies between 2000 and 2019 and found that practice varied widely among different patient populations. Prevalence of nonprescription antibiotic use was 1% among patients at clinics, for instance, and as high as 66% among Latino migrant workers.

In a July 26, 2019 CNN article, Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health who was not involved with the study, commended the research for its level of detail and for shedding light on a form of antibiotic use that’s not well understood.

“The overall picture that’s given here is way more detailed than I would have known about, particularly the various sources,” he said. “To me, what’s important about this study is that [nonprescription antibiotic use] is a form of antibiotic use that contributes to the burden of antibiotic resistance.”

Read the CNN article: People in the United States are misusing antibiotics, study says