CDC launches antibiotic use reduction campaign

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual campaign to reduce the overuse of antibiotics began this week, with consumers urged to use antibiotics sparingly.
The CDC campaign, called "Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work," urges consumers to use antibiotics sparingly to prevent antibiotic-resistant microbes, the Health Care Blog reports.
Data from the CDC shows that antibiotics use is leveling off in the United States, falling 25 percent from 1994 to 2007. Despite the decrease, some regional disparities in the use of antibiotics, including extremely high consumption in some Southeastern states, may cause problems, according to Ramanan Laxminarayan, the director of Extending the Cure, a research and consultative effort that examines policy solutions to stop the growing issue of antibiotics resistance.
"The new research reveals a high rate of antibiotic use in some Southeastern states and much lower rates in the Pacific Northwest, compared to the rest of the country," Laxminaryan said, according to the Health Care Blog. "West Virginia and Kentucky had striking rates of antibiotic use: People living in those states took twice as many antibiotics as people living in states like Oregon and Alaska. High rates, like those seen in the southeastern United States, might reflect an environment in which consumers are anxious to get an antibiotic prescription for a case of the flu – and doctors are only too willing to comply. But antibiotics do nothing to combat viral illnesses such as common colds or influenza."
Laxminarayan said that public health officials must quickly move to reduce antibiotic prescriptions where they are not necessary and that policymakers must put in place comprehensive solutions, including better infection control and surveillance efforts. In addition, he said that antibiotics should be viewed as a limited resource that must be conserved.
"Finally, we must start to view antibiotics as a shared resource – just like oil reserves – that we all depend on," Laxminaryan said, according to the Health Care Blog. "We must all act together to conserve these drugs to preserve their effectiveness. If we do nothing, it is only a matter of time before the drugs we have left are made useless."