Britain will allow the sale of over-the-counter oral antibiotics. Anyone older than 16 will be able to buy the azithromycin pill. From the article:
It is designed for use by people who have tested positive for the sexually transmitted infection and have no symptoms. The drug will also be available on an over-the-counter (OTC) basis for their sexual partners.Now, we’ve all read the reports about antibiotic-resistant bacteria and viruses. Wouldn’t over-the-counter antibiotics exacerbate the situation? More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Up to 70 percent of people who have chlamydia exhibit no symptoms but risk serious long-term health complications, including infertility and ectopic pregnancy.
"Today's move means that symptom-free people diagnosed with chlamydia and their partner will be able to get convenient effective treatment from their local pharmacy," said June Raine, MHRA director of vigilance and risk management of medicines.
The British government has taken a lead in Europe in encouraging self-medication, as a way to increase patient choice and cut state healthcare bills.
The country already allows OTC sales of cholesterol-lowering and migraine drugs, as well as antibiotic eyedrops.
"The MHRA is keen to support the availability of more medicines over-the-counter, where it is safe to do so, and we wish to move on to new areas such as prevention and chronic disease management," Raine said in a statement.
Drug companies are a big part of this problem. They promote the use of their products through widespread advertising and the practice of giving free samples of the more potent, broad-spectrum antibiotics to doctors. The more widely these newer (and often ten times more expensive) antibiotics are used, the greater the chances that the bacteria will develop resistance. Many patients don't think a doctor is doing his job if he doesn't prescribe antibiotics or other medication. If he doesn't prescribe the medication they want, some patients actually will look for another doctor who will. Most doctors perpetuate this problem because they give in to the pressure to prescribe antibiotics. They like to appear that they are offering an important and necessary service by writing prescriptions.What’s especially troubling is less than a month ago British doctors were urged to cutback on how many antibiotics they prescribe—weird?