In September, the White House issued an executive order that the federal government will increase its efforts to combat antibiotic resistance nationally and internationally, and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “estimates that annually at least two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the United States alone.”1
The CDC’s Get Smart About Antibiotics Week is an annual November program aimed at increasing the awareness of the US public, as well as healthcare professionals, about the serious consequences of antibiotic resistance resulting from the overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics, and the importance of correct prescribing and patient use of these medications.
According to the CDC, “Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs used in human medicine. However, up to 50% of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed or are optimally effective as prescribed.”2 That percentage should give every healthcare professional a pause.
This year, to support the proper use of antibiotics and to reduce antibiotic resistance, a major dermatology company (Galderma Laboratories) has partnered with the American Acne and Rosacea Society (AARS) to join the CDC’s efforts to increase the awareness of the risks associated with antibiotic resistance.3
“Dermatologists are one of the main prescribers of antibiotics among all physicians, and we aim to collaborate with healthcare providers to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions for conditions such as acne and help curb rising resistance rates,”3 said Lawrence Eichenfield, MD, President of the AARS and Chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Dermatology at Children’s Hospital, San Diego, and the University of California, San Diego.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting approximately 40 million to 50 million Americans.4 As in other conditions, the long-term use of antibiotics for the treatment of acne may be a contributor to antibiotic resistance.
Furthermore, according to Lauri Hicks, DO, of the CDC, and Medical Director of the CDC’s Get Smart: Know How Antibiotics Work program,5 “Antibiotic use, appropriate or otherwise, in any specialty contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance. In dermatology, this is true for acne medications that contain antibiotics. This year, Get Smart About Antibiotics Week continues to provide healthcare providers with resources to determine whether antibiotics are truly necessary, and empower patients to learn more about their treatment options.”3
According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing public health problems worldwide.6 The number of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics has increased in the past decade, and many bacterial infections are becoming resistant to the most frequently prescribed antibiotics. “Repeated and improper uses of antibiotics are primary causes of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria,”6 the CDC warns.
Furthermore, the misuse of antibiotics negatively can affect a patient’s use of other drugs. “When antibiotics fail to work, the consequences are longer-lasting illnesses, more doctor visits or extended hospital stays, and the need for more expensive and toxic medications. Some resistant infections can even cause death,”6 the CDC reminds patients and physicians.
Although most physicians are aware of the risks associated with antibiotic resistance, many still prescribe antibiotics inappropriately or excessively. When used properly, antibiotics improve the well-being and overall health of patients, but when used inappropriately, these medications can exacerbate an illness, reduce the efficacy of other drugs, and can cause more serious problems for patients, as the White House new executive order suggests.1 The judicious use of antibiotics is a national healthcare priority.
- White House Press Release. Executive Order—Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/18/executive-order-combating-antibiotic-resistant-bacteria. September 18, 2014. Accessed December 12, 2014.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. Overview. www.cdc.gov/getsmart/week/overview.html. Accessed December 12, 2014.
Galderma Press Release. Responsible use of antibiotics in dermatology supported during CDC’s Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. November 17, 2014. www.galderma.com/News/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/72/Responsible-use-of-Antibiotics-in-Dermatology-supported-during-CDCs-Get-Smart-About-Antibiotics-Week. Accessed December 12, 2014.
American Academy of Dermatology. Acne: who gets and causes. www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/a---d/acne/who-gets-causes. Accessed December 12, 2014.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get Smart: Learn How Antibiotics Work. www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/. Accessed December 12, 2014.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get Smart: Learn How Antibiotics Work. Facts About Antibiotic Resistance. www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/fast-facts.html. Accessed December 12, 2014.