DRUG RESISTANCE: State Launches Antibiotic Overuse Campaign
Hoping to curb the rise of drug-resistant infections, the California Medical Association and the state health department have teamed with major insurers on a five-year effort to track and reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics, the Contra Costa Times reports. In the spring, officials will launch a statewide public education campaign designed to persuade patients that indiscriminate use of antibiotics is detrimental to both individual and public long-term health. Educating the public is important, officials said, because physicians often feel pressured by patients -- and parents of young children in particular -- to prescribe antibiotics, even when they know drugs are inappropriate or unnecessary. According to the CDC, between 20% and 50% of antibiotics prescribed annually are not needed, as nearly 235 million doses are prescribed for viral illnesses such as the flu, despite their known ineffectiveness against those ailments. Spurred by cost concerns, health plans are also working to discourage over-prescription of the drugs; many now provide physicians with "antibiotic prescribing profiles" that compare their prescribing habits with those of other area physicians. Many public health officials have been warning of drug-resistant bacteria strains for nearly a decade. Noting the rise in multi-drug resistant bugs, Dr. Joseph Silva, dean of the UC-Davis School of Medicine, said, "The key to controlling resistance is to make sure that where (antibiotics) are used, they are used appropriately -- the right drug for the right bug" (McMillan, 12/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.