Study finds influenza antivirals underprescribed, antibiotics overprescribed

A recent study found that antiviral therapy was underprescribed in the 2012-2013 influenza season to patients likely to benefit the most from them.

The study, published in Clinical Infections Diseases, also found that antibiotics might have been overprescribed during the same time period. The findings suggest that stronger efforts are needed to educate clinicians on the appropriate use of influenza treatments, according to an Infectious Diseases Society of America press release.

The study, a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutions, analyzed data from more than 6,800 patients seen at outpatient care centers in five U.S. states. The researchers examined prescription records for two antiviral treatments and three common antibiotics.

The results showed that 19 percent of patients at high risk for influenza-related complications who visited a primary care doctor shortly after exhibiting symptoms received antiviral treatments, compared to 30 percent of patients received one of the three antibiotics.

The study noted that while some of the antibiotics might have been effective against secondary infections related to influenza, it is likely that most were unnecessary and potentially contributed to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

Another recent editorial said that there are additional benefits from using antiviral therapy for influenza, including reductions in hospitalizationsand stroke risk.