Have Recent Guidelines Reduced Inappropriate Antibiotic Prescribing?

No significant change in individual or overall annual antibiotic prescribing rates during study period
No significant change in individual or overall annual antibiotic prescribing rates during study period

HealthDay News — From 2013 to 2016, annual national outpatient antibiotic prescribing practices remained unchanged, according to a study published online February 27 in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Michael J. Durkin, MD, MPH, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues characterized trends in outpatient antibiotic prescribing in the United States from 2013 to 2015. National administrative claims data from a pharmacy benefits manager were obtained. 

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The researchers found that during the 3-year study period, about 98 million outpatient antibiotic prescriptions were filled by 39 million insurance beneficiaries. Azithromycin, amoxicillin, amoxicillin/clavulanate, ciprofloxacin, and cephalexin were the most commonly prescribed antibiotics. During the study period there were no significant changes in individual or overall annual antibiotic prescribing rates. There was significant seasonal variation, with antibiotics 42 percent more likely to be prescribed during February than September (peak-to-trough ratio [PTTR], 1.42). Seasonal trends were similar for azithromycin, amoxicillin, and amoxicillin/clavulanate (PTTRs, 2.46, 1.52, and 1.78, respectively).

"These results suggest that inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics remains widespread, despite the concurrent release of several guideline-based best practices intended to reduce inappropriate antibiotic consumption; however, further research linking national outpatient antibiotic prescriptions to associated medical conditions is needed to confirm these findings," the authors write.

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