Almost half of British GPs have admitted prescribing
antibiotics even though they know they will not treat the patient's condition,
a new survey states.
Ninety percent of doctors who participated in the survey
revealed that they felt pressure from patients to hand out the medications.
The government-funded survey compiled responses from 1,004 GPs across the UK. It found
28% have prescribed antibiotics several times a week even when they are not
sure if it is medically necessary, and 45% have done so knowing they will not
The new findings come after researchers at Public Health
England and University College London
revealed earlier this month that
antibiotic prescriptions for minor ailments including coughs and colds
increased by around 40% from 1999 to 2011.
Seventy percent of GPs took part in the survey said they
prescribe because they are unsure whether the patient has a viral or bacterial
infection, and 24% say it is because there is a lack of easy-to-use diagnostic
Dr Rosemary Leonard, a British GP and journalist, said she
understands the pressures GPs are faced with to prescribe antibiotics when they
"The more antibiotics taken, the more resistant bacteria
come to them. Antibiotic resistance is a major issue and more needs to be done
to conserve antibiotics for the future.
Diagnostics play a pivotal role in making this happen. Not
only can diagnostics help determine the type of infection someone has, they
could gather valuable data and aid the global surveillance efforts," she
Meanwhile, Tamar Ghosh who leads the Longitude Prize, said
accurate diagnostic tools can help curb the unnecessary use of antibiotics
across the globe.
"In the next five years, the Longitude Prize aims to
find a cheap and effective diagnostic tool that can be used anywhere in the
world. We recognize that stemming the misuse and overuse of antibiotics is just
one piece of the jigsaw to slow bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
Nevertheless it's an significant step when we could be
waiting many years for other solutions, including novel alternatives to
antibiotics coming to the market," said Ms Ghosh.
Just 6% of 1,074 patients surveyed by Populus, a leading research & strategy consultancy in the UK,
earlier this month said they would push their GPs to give them antibiotics,
despite the high number of doctors claiming they feel under pressure to do so.
According to the sources, the latest research comes ahead of
the Ģ10 million Longitude Prize which will open later this year for entries to
find an easy and cost-effective test for bacterial infections that medical
experts can use to determine if and when to give out antibiotics.