US physicians still overprescribing drugs, study finds: 4 findings

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Despite evidence that some drugs aren't medically necessary in certain cases, physicians still overprescribe these treatments, especially antibiotics, according to the findings of a random survey of 5,000 American College of Physician members.

Here are four things to know about the survey, as reported by HealthDay.

1. Antibiotics are the drugs that are most frequently prescribed in situations where they will not provide value for patients. About 27 percent of physicians responding to the survey said antibiotics are often administered to patients when the drugs will not remedy the case at hand.

2. In most cases, antibiotics are prescribed to treat respiratory infections, even though these infections are typically caused by viruses. Other treatments commonly prescribed by physicians despite having little evidence-based value for patients include aggressive treatments for terminally ill patients (9 percent of physicians), drugs to address chronic pain (7 percent) and dietary supplements such as fish oil and multivitamins (5 percent), according to the report.

3. The survey findings underscore the importance of scaling back medically unnecessary prescriptions, especially as antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" become increasingly threatening. According to data from the CDC cited by HealthDay, at least 2 million people a year are infected with bacteria that are antibiotic-resistant, and at least 23,000 die as a result of those infections.

4. The CDC estimates that as much as one-half of antibiotic use in humans is either unnecessary or inappropriate, according to the report.   

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