NY Times examines the darker side of popular antibiotics.
Antibiotics have saves millions of lives over the years. They have also been overused in many instances, partly by the mistaken idea that they can cure many common colds, even though they are ineffective on viruses. New information as per the NY Times explains the pitfalls of many of the popular antibiotics now in use and gives us another reason to use antibiotics cautiously, and only when really necessary.
Popular Antibiotics May Carry Serious Side EffectsBy JANE E. BRODY Antibiotics are important drugs, often restoring health and even saving lives. But like all drugs, they can have unwanted and serious side effects, some of which may not become apparent until many thousands of patients have been treated. Such is the case with an important class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones. The best known are Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (levofloxacin) and Avelox (moxifloxacin). In 2010, Levaquin was the best-selling antibiotic in the United States.
But by last year it was also the subject of more than 2,000 lawsuits from patients who had suffered severe reactions after taking it.
Part of the problem is that fluoroquinolones are often inappropriately prescribed. Instead of being reserved for use against serious, perhaps life-threatening bacterial infections like hospital-acquired pneumonia, these antibiotics are frequently prescribed for sinusitis, bronchitis, earaches and other ailments that may resolve on their own or can be treated with less potent drugs or nondrug remedies — or are caused by viruses, which are not susceptible to antibiotics.
In an interview, Mahyar Etminan, a pharmacological epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia, said the drugs were overused “by lazy doctors who are trying to kill a fly with an automatic weapon.”