NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Fewer Pediatrics Doctors Prescribing Antibiotics

July 25, 2002

Remarkably, the number of antibiotic prescriptions written for children in doctors' offices has declined by 40 percent since 1989. That is because doctors have been urged to reduce their prescription of antibiotics, particularly for children. Extensive use of antibiotics has contributed to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria.

  • Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics, other medical associations and public health groups also want diminished use of over-the-counter drugs like decongestants and cough medicines because their safety and effectiveness haven't been well-studied in children.
  • More than 40 percent of antibiotics prescribed in doctors' offices are for viral ailments -- which antibiotics cannot cure.
  • While medical groups have been issuing guidelines to assist pediatricians in their treatment, it is said that physicians do not always pay attention to these guidelines and pediatricians frequently give in to parents' pleas for certain medications -- with the justification that "well, it can't hurt."

Source: Laurie Tarkan, "Use of Antibiotics Is Down, but Is It Enough," New York Times, July 23, 2002.


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