Antibiotics

Charting the course of antibiotic failure

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Science  17 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6207, pp. 311
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6207.311-a
CREDIT: JAMES CAVALLINI/SCIENCE SOURCE

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a major public health problem. To better understand this in a clinical setting, Currie et al. analyzed a 20-year prescribing history of antibiotics by UK primary care practitioners and report a 12% increase in treatment failure (when a specific antibiotic fails to cure an infection). The authors found only small decreases in the ability of frontline drugs, such as penicillins and macrolides, to control respiratory tract and soft tissue infections. More worryingly, however, second-line antibiotics, such as cephalosporins and quinolones, often used to treat elderly and frail patients with pneumonia, showed higher failure rates since 1991.

BMJ 10.1136/bmj.g5493 (2014).

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