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MONDAY, JANUARY 24, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Doctors should stop giving unnecessary prescriptions

It's no big secret that the doctors at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta are worried that overuse of antibiotics could position the world for a pandemic that could make the recent tsunami deaths look insignificant.

The agency is concerned that patients are asking for, and doctors are prescribing, too many antibiotics for such common afflictions as the cold. Doctors know antibiotics have no effect on a virus, but a loath to turn a patient down that might go away feeling hurt that their doctor gave them no prescription.

While a prescription might make a patient happy, it doesn't make the CDC or the Alabama Department of Public Health look on with joy.

Each unnecessary prescription increases the chance that the bacteria that plague the world will soon acquire immunity to present-day antibiotic offerings.

Although drug companies are always trying to find new antibiotics, the truth is that there are very few available on today's market that haven't been impacted by overuse.

The Alabama Department of Health is to be commended for linking with the CDC to help make the public aware of this immense health threat that spreads resistance to antibiotics.

The next time you see your doctor for colds, flu or other viral infections, remember that antibiotics do not kill viruses, make patients with viral infections feel better, yield a faster recovery or keep others from becoming sick.

Americans need to reduce the tens of millions of antibiotic prescriptions written each year by their doctors. Many times, a prescription for antibiotics is the wrong course of treatment.

If you get a prescription, first talk to your doctor about the need, and then talk to your pharmacist about the effectiveness of what you are about to take.

If something isn't done soon, the world will run out of treatments for diseases that have become resistant to antibiotics because of overuse and abuse.

When that happens, millions could die.

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