AOH :: ANTIBIOT.TXT|
The Rising Cost of Antibiotics
THE FIGHT BACK! BY DAVID HOROWITZ
Rising Cost Of Antibiotics
Americans are spending more and more money to fight one of the
most common ailments among young children -- ear infections. Almost
every child gets an ear infection at one time or another, and for one
child in six, such infections are chronic and prolonged.
For years, pediatricians prescribed common, inexpensive
antibiotics to treat these infections, usually penicillin or
ampicillin. These older drugs typically cost between $3 and $4 for
each prescription. But then, doctors noticed that these drugs weren't
killing the germs that caused the infection. The bacteria had become
resistant to penicillin and ampicillin.
According to a recent article in the Journal of the American
Medical Association, more and more physicians are now prescribing
newer and more costly broad- spectrum antibiotics for persistent ear
infections. And that has raised the cost of treatment dramatically.
At current prices, a typical prescription of Suprax costs about
$38. Drugs like Augmentin and Celclor are even more expensive -- they
retail for between $65 and $70 for enough to treat the average child's
But the high cost of these drugs isn't the only concern. If the
bacteria that cause ear infections can become resistant to the older
drugs, they can also develop resistance to the newer ones. And there
are some signs that this may be happening. What doctors fear now is
the emergence of some new strain of germ that is immune to every
antibiotic on the market, regardless of the cost.
This concern has moved many pediatricians to take a more
conservative approach to prescribing antibiotics for common infections
such as colds, which in many cases, will clear up on their own. They
are also counseling their patients more carefully about how to take
That includes making sure patients don't quit taking their
prescriptions as soon as they begin feeling better. It's important
that they complete the course of treatment so that the invading
bacteria are killed and not allowed to mutate, become resistant and
bring on the infection again.
One hopeful sign in the battle against children's ear
A study was conducted on the use of tympanostomy tubes, which are
implanted in the child's eardrum to equalize pressure and allow
drainage inside the inner ear. These small tubes can relieve infection
and prevent permanent hearing loss, they require surgery to implant,
which means considerable discomfort for the child.
A study of 65,000 children who had these tubes implanted showed
that, in 58 percent of those cases, the procedure was either
unnecessary or borderline and that treatment with antibiotics would
probably have achieved the same result. As a result of that study,
federal guidelines now advise doctors to wait and watch before
resorting to surgical implants. If the infection persists, then the
tubes may be employed.
By changing this procedure from a first response to a last
resort, thousands of children will now be spared the pain, and their
parents spared the expense, of a surgical operation.
If you have any questions or comments, please write to David
Horowitz in the Consumer Forum+ (go FIGHTBACK). COPYRIGHT 1995
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
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