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Old 03-05-2009, 10:56 AM
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Default Free Antibiotics and Drug Resistance

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Pharmacies around the country are offering free antibiotics to cash-strapped consumers, but public health officials say the incentives send the wrong message and could worsen the problem of drug resistance.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent out letters to several pharmacies urging them to promote responsible use of antibiotics to their customers. Currently, several pharmacies including Giant Food Stores, Stop & Shop, Wegmans Food Markets, Publix, Meijer and ShopRite are offering free antibiotics to customers who have a prescription from their doctor.

“We don’t want to discourage companies from providing low-cost medications to their consumers,” said Dr. Lauri Hicks, medical director for the C.D.C.’s “Get Smart Program,” which offers educational materials about appropriate antibiotic use. “If a patient believes that they can get an antibiotic quite easily or for free, then it may increase the pressure on health care providers to prescribe it.”

The generic antibiotics included in the free programs are relatively inexpensive compared to other drugs, in part because they typically are used for limited periods and are not refilled. Pharmacies have adopted the programs to promote customer loyalty and compete for the business of major retailers like Wal-Mart.

Last year, the centers also sent letters to major retailers who were promoting low-cost drug programs, urging them to educate customers about drug resistance. But the agency says some of the pharmacies that are giving away antibiotics have linked the offers to the cold and flu season, prompting the agency to send a new round of letters. Colds and flu are viral-borne and should not be treated with antibiotics, doctors say.

“Most of the infections during cold and flu season and most times are due to viruses and not the result of bacteria, so antibiotics don’t work,” said Dr. Neil Fishman, chairman of an antimicrobial resistance work group for the Infectious Disease Society of America and an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania. “This is exactly the time we don’t want to encourage antibiotic use.”

Jamie Miller, public affairs manager for Giant Food, said the company had dropped the references to cold and flu from its marketing campaign, and was reviewing the C.D.C.’s concerns.

“We trust that doctors will write prescriptions for antibiotics based on the best interests of their patients,” Mr. Miller said.

Jeanne Colleluori, a spokeswoman for Wegmans Food Markets, said the company in February published information on its Web site, in advertising circulars and e-mail messages to customers about responsible antibiotic use and appropriate cough and cold treatments. Ms. Colleluori said that Wegmans would continue the giveaways until its scheduled end date of April 30, but that the company was planning to distribute the centers’ educational materials in its pharmacies.

The Infectious Disease Society of America said the pharmacies would be providing a more important public service if they gave free flu shots.

“If you give antibiotics away, it sort of implies that we should use them rather freely,” said Dr. Anne Gershon, an infectious disease specialist and president of the infectious diseases society. “Giving away antibiotics could lead to stockpiling of drugs. We need to control antibiotic use very carefully, because more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics.”
Free Antibiotics May Contribute to Drug Resistance, Officials Say

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Old 03-07-2009, 11:05 PM
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Antibiotics should only be used in emergency, and should be used against bacteria, not viruses. They shouldn't be used to fatten animals, nor should they be given through feed.

Antibiotic overuse has created super bugs such as MRSA, which is spreading throughout hospitals and nursing homes like wildfire.
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Old 03-09-2009, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by pinballdoctor View Post
Antibiotic overuse has created super bugs such as MRSA, which is spreading throughout hospitals and nursing homes like wildfire.
More than that. It is spreading through schools and the community at large. Many hospitals in California are getting more cases coming in than going out these days. It is a community epidemic now found in most major American cities. It spreads slow.

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