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Prescribing of antibiotics rises

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The numbers of antibiotics prescribed in general practice for conditions such as colds and coughs has increased since 1999, according to research by PHE and University College London.

The study found that prescriptions had risen by 40 per cent, despite guidelines aiming to reduce prescribing for illnesses largely caused by viruses. The researchers also identified a variation between practices, with the highest prescribing practices twice as likely to give a prescription for coughs and colds as the lowest prescribers.

Professor Jeremy Hawker, a consultant epidemiologist at PHE, said: ‘Previous research has shown that only 10 per cent of sore throats and 20 per cent of acute sinusitis benefit from antibiotic treatment, but the prescription rates we found were much higher than this. The worry is that patients who receive antibiotics when they are not needed run the risk of carrying antibiotic resistant bacteria in their gut. If these bacteria go on to cause an infection, antibiotics will then not work when the patient really does need them.'

The study was published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. For more information, visit:

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