Antibiotics are medications intended to combat the bacteria, which are prescribed for a given period of time.
“We could advise the patient to stop treatment when they feel better, in contradiction with the opinion of the WHO”, world health Organization, ” write professor Martin Llewelyn, infectious disease specialist, and nine other doctors or health professionals, in a column published Thursday by the medical journal BMJ.
Do not increase drug resistance
It is recognized that an excessive use of antibiotics increases the resistance of the bacteria they are supposed to fight, and therefore makes these medicines less effective. At the same time, the instructions official recommend that the patient continue her treatment until the end even if his condition improves, the risk of developing resistance.
“This idea is not supported by any evidence, and take antibiotics for longer than necessary increases the risk of resistance,” deem the signatories of the forum, saying that research is needed to improve the instructions of prescription.
“We ask the policies and the doctors to stop promoting the message that it should go at the end of the treatment,” they add.
According to them, the idea of “inaccurate” was born in the early days of the development of antibiotics in the 1940s, and has lasted because it is simple and easy to implement”.
This forum has been well received by several independent experts.
“I always found it illogical to say that stopping antibiotic treatment too early favoured the emergence of resistant bacteria,” said professor Peter Openshaw, president of the british Society of immunology, as quoted by the Science Media Centre.
Antibiotic treatment times for specific cases
According to him, one of the solutions could be to “use antibiotics only to reduce the bacterial infection to a level where it can be fought off by the immune system of the patient.” He stresses, however, that antibiotic treatments long are required in specific cases, when the patient’s immune system is functioning poorly or when the bacteria can be dormant before striking, as in the case of tuberculosis.
“It is clear that prescribing patterns should change. The current volume of antibiotics used is too high,” added another expert, professor Mark Woolhouse (University of Edinburgh), also quoted by the SMC.
Resistance to antibiotics is a major concern of WHO. She has published in February a list of the 12 families of bacteria against which it deems “urgent” to develop new treatments.