Antibiotic use in America: 30 percent of prescriptions 'inappropriate'

Antibiotics have been an invaluable line of defense against infection since penicillin was first used in the 1920s. Millions of people across the world have enjoyed extended lives, thanks in part to these life-saving drugs. Over recent years, however, with the rise in antibiotic resistance, these wonder drugs have turned the tables on us. As it stands, antibiotic-resistant infections affect 2 million people and are associated with an estimated 23,000 deaths in the United States each year.

Many experts, including those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), believe that antibiotic usage is the main cause of these so-called superbugs. In 2011, in the U.S. alone, 262 million outpatient antibiotic prescriptions were dispensed, making up around 80 percent of the total antibiotic prescriptions. Although there have been concerns for some time that many of these prescriptions were filed unnecessarily, the exact figures were not known. New research aims to plug this knowledge gap.

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