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Prevent Super Bug Infections

(ARA) - Penicillin, the first antibiotic, was developed during World War II, and it literally changed the course of medical history. Before penicillin, as many as half of all pneumonia patients died. Since then, many other antibiotics have been developed, each of which works in a slightly different way. But they all have two things in common:

The first is that antibiotics are only effective against bacteria -- they are completely useless against colds and flu viruses; and the second is that it’s critical for patients to take them exactly as directed.

“Patients have told me they took half their prescription and then stopped; or worse yet, gave some drugs to a friend or family member, even though that person hadn’t seen a doctor,” says Marissa Schlaifer, director of Pharmacy Affairs for the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. “Patients don’t realize it’s exactly that type of misuse of antibiotics that can cause super-resistant strains of bacteria to develop.”

In addition, giving drugs to someone else can result in a serious reaction if that person has an allergy to the compound, or an interaction with another medication. When a patient stops taking a drug prematurely, or only takes half the indicated dosage per day, bacteria are weakened, but do not die. Instead, they eventually develop a resistance to the drug and become even stronger. These “super bugs” are much more difficult to treat. Many antibiotics have lost a great deal of their effectiveness since they were introduced.

If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic for you, be sure you understand how to take it, and for how long. If you have any questions about how it works or what the potential side effects could be, talk to your doctor or your pharmacist. Many health plans have pharmacists available for counseling over the telephone. Check your benefit booklet or your pharmacy ID card for an 800-number. “It’s only by patients, doctors and pharmacists working together that we can prevent the evolution of these deadly super bugs,” Schlaifer says. “If we don’t use antibiotics properly, we could face a future in which even an infected cut could have deadly consequences.”

The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy’s mission is to serve society by using sound medication management principles and strategies to achieve positive patient outcomes. For more information about AMCP visit the website at http://www.amcp.org.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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