FDA Antibiotic Resistance


The Federal Drug administration has detailed new labeling regulations in an effort to limit the emergence of drug-resistant strains of bacteria. The goal is to define when to prescribe antibiotics and when it may be inappropriate to prescribe antibiotics for viral conditions, chronic coughs and ear infections. The new ruling advises physicians to prescribe all systemically absorbed human antibiotics only for infections they truly believe meet the criteria for a bacterial infection. It also encourages physicians and pharmacists to advise patients on the importance of taking the medications exactly as prescribed and finish all medications even if they begin to feel better.  This is an effort by the FDA to preserve the usefulness of our existing antibiotics while researching and encouraging the development of new ones.

Antibiotics have been routinely prescribed for young children, who showed symptoms of redness, pressure or pain in their ear. These symptoms are often the result of a viral condition rather than bacterial. Often times it has been shown that the symptoms clear up in the same amount of time whether antibiotics were prescribed or not. It is this procedure of prescribing antibiotics for viral conditions that has contributed to the emergence of strains of bacteria that are becoming resistant to that antibiotic. It is even possible to pass on or spread antibiotic resistant bacteria on to others.

Antibiotics have also been routinely prescribed to address the symptoms of chronic coughs when there is thickening of the sputum present. These symptoms are indicative of a viral infection, not a bacterial one. This is another example of the improper use of antibiotics leading to the rising concerns of drug- resistant bacteria.

Many species of bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to the drugs used to treat them and some strains of bacteria have now become resistant to every approved antibiotic we have available.

Antibiotics are a wonderful thing! However, too much of a good thing is bad. For years antibiotics have been used for bacterial infections, but still are useless for viral infections such as colds or influenza, sore throats and coughs. Likewise the use of antibiotics for rosacea when there is not a bacterial component is not effective.