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Antibiotic Resistance Can Last a Year, Review Finds

Experts urge more careful use of the drugs in primary care

TUESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Some patients who take antibiotics may become resistant to them and stay that way for as long as a year, a new review finds.

The researchers analyzed 24 studies of antibiotic resistance, in which people develop a partial or full immunity to the powers of a medication. The studies looked at use of the drugs in primary care, most often for respiratory or urinary tract infections.

Antibiotic resistance is at its height in the month after a drug is prescribed, but the effect may last for a year, according to the findings published online May 18 in BMJ.

"Primary care clinicians and patients may wish to consider this evidence when discussing the benefits and risks of prescribing and consuming antibiotics," study author Alastair Hay, consultant senior lecturer in primary health care at the University of Bristol in England, and colleagues concluded.

In an accompanying commentary, two economics and health policy specialists wrote that new drugs are needed to help combat the antibiotic resistance problem.

Another commentary warns that "nothing less than the future of medicine, from organ transplants to chemotherapy, is at stake, and there will be no second chances."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on antibiotic resistance.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: BMJ, news release, May 18, 2010

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