Friday, April 08, 2011

Research Warns of Overuse of Powerful Class of Antibiotics

(HealthDay News) -- The use of a powerful class of antibiotics called carbapenems has increased dramatically in the United States over the past five years, a new study shows.

The increased use of these drugs -- widely regarded as the last option for treating severe infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria -- is cause for concern because carbapenem-resistant bacteria are becoming more common, the researchers said.

Overuse of carbapenem drugs could lead to the reduction of their effectiveness against tough-to-treat infections.

For this study, the researchers analyzed antibiotic use in 110 VA facilities from 2005 to 2009. They found a gradual rise in overall antibiotic use, but major increases in the use of certain types of antibiotics: carbapenems (102 percent); intravenous vancomycin (79 percent); and combinations of penicillin with beta-lactamase-inhibitors (41 percent).

The investigators also found that fluoroquinolones were the most frequently used class across all the VA facilities, accounting for 20 percent of all antibiotic use. Read more...

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