Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

Antibiotic Prescribing Rates May Vary by Region

It may be contributing to growing problem of drug-resistant bacteria, researcher says

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Barbara Bronson Gray

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- The chances that your doctor will give you antibiotics when you're sick may be influenced by geography, new research reveals.

It's tough to know exactly what factors contributed to the regional variations the research team found in antibiotic prescription rates, said study author Lauri Hicks, medical director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Why is West Virginia more than double compared to Alaska? I imagine there are provider factors, patient factors and cultural factors that are all shaping the impact," Hicks said.

Some patients may pressure physicians to give them what they perceive as a "quick fix" so they can get back to work sooner or return their sick child to day care, Hicks added. Unfortunately, that contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, she said.

"We should be thinking of antibiotics not as a magic bullet, but as a precious resource that we should only use when absolutely necessary," she said.

The researchers also found that there are higher rates of obesity and smoking in areas where there is more antibiotic use.

The research, published April 11 in the New England Journal of Medicine, offers fresh insight into how the way antibiotics are prescribed may be affecting the growing problem of drug resistance.

Here's what the team found:

  • In 2010, health care providers prescribed 258 million courses of antibiotics, or 833 prescriptions per 1,000 people, on average.
  • Penicillin and a class of antibiotics known as macrolides (including drugs such as azithromycin and erythromycin, for example) were the most commonly prescribed.
  • Prescription rates were higher in the South (936 prescriptions per 1,000 people) and lower in the West (639 prescriptions per 1,000 people).
  • Prescriptions were more frequently written for children under 10 and adults aged 65 and older.
  • Prescribing rates varied considerably by physician specialty.

The trends are troubling, Hicks said, as the war against bacterial infections is getting harder to fight. Increased antibiotic usage is associated with growing resistance to the drugs, she said.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear
woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat