Efforts by doctors and public health experts to rein in the use of antibiotics in children appear to be working, according to a new study that shows a 14% decline in pediatric prescriptions for those drugs between 2002 and 2010.
As many as half of the antibiotics taken in this country are taken inappropriately – to treat infections caused by viruses instead of bacteria, for example. In these cases, the drugs don’t help patients, but they do help bacteria build resistance to the drugs.
An analysis of prescription data from two large companies that track retail pharmacy sales found that the drop in antibiotic use fueled an overall decline in prescription drug use among children and teens. The analysis was conducted by researchers at the Food and Drug Administration and published online this week by the journal Pediatrics.
Altogether, 263 million pediatric prescriptions were filled in 2010, which represents a 7% reduction compared to 2002. (For the sake of comparison, prescriptions for adults increased by 22% over the same period.) When population size was taken into account, total prescriptions for kids fell by 9% over the eight-year period.