New research finds high rates of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions for sore throats and bronchitis across the United States (US). This is despite the fact that for decades the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations have pushed to reduce the inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics. Antibiotics are a class of drugs used to treat, and in some cases prevent, infections caused by bacteria. They don’t work against viruses, and in fact, taking antibiotics for viral infections can do more harm than good. While only 10% of adults with a sore throat have strep (the only common cause of sore throat that warrants antibiotics), the national prescribing rate of antibiotics for American adults with a sore throat remains at 60%. For acute bronchitis, the rate for antibiotic prescriptions should be near 0%, yet the national average is 73%.
JAMA, October 2013