Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Good news from France

For some time now, France has arguably been at the forefront of efforts to curb inappropriate antibiotic usage, thereby reducing the evolution of antibiotic resistance amongst bacteria.  In 2002 they launched their flagship program, called "Les antibiotiques c'est pas automatique" ("Antibiotics aren't automatic").  This used a multimodal approach to try to tackle the problem, including educational campaigns for health care workers and the public alike (emphasising the differences between viral and bacterial respiratory illnesses) and the promotion of rapid tests for streptococcal infections.  [Steptococci are the commonest bacterial cause of pharyngitis, but the commonest causes overall are viral, by a long shot.]

The results, as reported in this study, are impressive.  In just seven years (2000 - 2007) the rate of winter antibiotic prescriptions decreased by about 25% overall, with the largest drop (around 33%) being seen in children.  This is a hugely significant decrease, and one would surmise that it will have a positive impact (from our point of view, if not the bacteria's) on efforts to delay or prevent the development of antibiotic resistance.

Now let's see this program (which has now been all but proven to work) be expanded across the world.  Without delay.

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