Study Shows Fluoroquinolones Unnecessarily Prescribed for Urinary Tract Infections and Respiratory Conditions
A new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases reports about 5% of all fluoroquinolones prescribed for adults in doctor’s offices and emergency departments are completely unnecessary, and about 20% of all fluoroquinolone prescriptions in these two settings are not the recommended first-line treatment.
Due to the serious side effects they can cause, fluoroquinolones should only be used when absolutely necessary.
Fluoroquinolones’ side effects can involve tendons, muscles, joints, nerves and the central nervous system, or could lead to life-threatening Clostridium difficile infection, which causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death. Because of these serious side effects, in 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning advising healthcare providers to not use fluoroquinolones for conditions for which alternative and effective treatment is available and when the potential risks outweigh the benefits.
During 2014, 31.5 million fluoroquinolone prescriptions were written in doctor’s offices and emergency departments. Fluoroquinolones were the most common antibiotic prescribed for urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections and sinusitis—for which fluoroquinolones are not the recommended first-line treatment—accounted for an estimated 6.3 million fluoroquinolone prescriptions.
Respiratory conditions, such as sinusitis and bronchitis, accounted for 21.6% of all fluoroquinolone prescriptions, the second largest proportion of prescriptions.
Colds and bronchitis—for which no antibiotics should be prescribed—led to an estimated 1.6 million fluoroquinolone prescriptions.
Efforts to improve antibiotic use should target inappropriate fluoroquinolone prescribing in adults to help reduce threats to the public’s health and rising rates of antibiotic resistance.
For more information on antibiotic prescribing and use, visit https://www.cdc.gov/