Antibiotics. How long do you take them for?

I am sure like me, when you are prescribed antibiotics, the doctor, the pharmacist and the notes inside the packet tell you to finish the course of antibiotics. Ever wondered why? How many of us comply fully and do finish the course. What happens if we don’t? Will they still work, or will be subject to a life of purgatory?

Well the main reason behind the advice to finish the course is to avoid antibiotic resistance, but this advice has been challenged by Professor Martin Llewelyn at Brighton and Sussex Medical School and colleagues who claim patients are put at unnecessary risk from antibiotic resistance when treatment is given for longer than necessary, not when it is stopped early.

They say it’s time for policy makers, educators, and doctors to drop this message and state that this was not evidence-based and is incorrect.

Antibiotics are vital to modern medicine and antibiotic resistance is a global, urgent threat to human health. Public communication about antibiotics often emphasises that patients who fail to complete prescribed antibiotic courses put themselves and others at risk of antibiotic resistance.

However, the idea that stopping antibiotic treatment early encourages antibiotic resistance is not supported by evidence, while taking antibiotics for longer than necessary increases the risk of resistance, explain the authors. Read the full article here