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Antibiotic Course Need Not Be Completed Entirely, BMJ Experts Argue

Antibiotic course length.

Here’s a refreshing advice for those who are not really into taking antibiotics in full course. Experts from BMJ urge to reconsider completing antibiotic courses entirely. They argued that stopping the antibiotic course early doesn’t really have enough evidence that it encourages antibiotic resistance.
Some experts suggest that more studies should be conducted on cutting the course short when improvement in the condition is already seen on the patient.
There are GPs who firmly suggest not to stray from the common and known advice of most health professionals to complete it just because of a single study made by some experts.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, leader of the Royal College of General Practitioners, says that improvement in symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that the infection has already been completely eradicated. Suggesting otherwise would confuse many people because completing the entire antibiotic course is a mantra that is well-known for many.
The professor said that she cannot advocate to change the advice only after one study. She is concerned that people might stop taking medication in the middle when they start to feel better. It doesn’t follow that the infection has been completely stopped. Failure to complete the whole antibiotic course might result to rapid resistance.

She also said that most recommended courses of antibiotics are not just random. The prescriptions are given according to the patient’s individual need and condition. In many cases, the courses are quite short.
Professor Martin Llewelyn, and his team of researchers from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, England together with colleagues, argue that prescribing antibiotic to patients for lengthy time is already an outdated advice.

Introducing reduced prescription on antibiotics is important in fighting the growing problem of antibiotic resistance which is the concern of most health professionals.
They stated that taking antibiotics for 3 to 5 days can actually work just as well as taking them longer as usually prescribed by many. The researchers also acknowledged that there are cases for exemptions for those which are known to lead rapid resistance like TB infections for instance.
They also suggested that further studies should be made about cutting taking of antibiotics short basing on the kind of infection and each person. Further studies must be conducted to support the argument.

The team also noted that many hospitals are also reviewing the need for prescribing antibiotics for lengthy period. Even hospitals are looking into reducing courses for drugs. This is becoming a trend and is being increasingly applied.
This study, however, questions the patients’ ability to check on themselves diligently while on the course. Many do not have the time and opportunity to have the check-up done in the hospitals regularly. The researchers also agree and accepted this fact for a lot people fail to set appointments with health professionals to make sure that they have indeed been cured completely.

The spokesman for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Kieran Hand said that the opinion of the infection experts in NHS has opened a welcome debate in the UK.
The debate involves the use of antibiotics, its efficacy and length of use.
Hand urged that the researchers should conduct further studies on whether it is advisable to cut the take of antibiotics short than the usual lengthy prescription advice if improvements is already seen.

The studies should focus to include the type of infection present and individual need of the patient before advocating it in general. He said that what is ideal is that the people would be given the right and exact amount of prescription and medication based on their specific and individual condition.
However, until further studies, Public Health England says, patients should seek their health professional’s advice on how their antibiotics are to be taken effectively.

BBC – Should you finish a course of antibiotics?

Antibiotic Course Need Not Be Completed Entirely, BMJ Experts Argue
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