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Drug resistance spurs quinolone use for UTIs

As a result of concerns about antibiotic resistance, U.S. physicians are increasingly prescribing quinolones to treat urinary tract infections.

New research at Oregon State University, Corvallis suggests that the more powerful medications are used more frequently than necessary, and the authors recommend that physicians and patients discuss the issues involved with antibiotic therapy and only use the stronger drugs if really needed.

The study’s results showed that between 1998 and 2009, approximately 2% of all doctor’s office visits by adult women were for UTI, and antibiotics were prescribed 71% of the time.

In addition, prescriptions for quinolones rose 10% in recent years, while other drugs that may be equally effective in treating cystitis remained unchanged.

Since older, inexpensive, and more targeted drugs can work for treating UTIs, they should be considered before the more powerful ones, said co-author Jessina McGregor, PhD, who presented the findings at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Francisco.

"This problem is getting worse, and it’s important that we not use the new and stronger drugs unless they are really needed,” Dr. McGregor said. "That’s in everyone’s best interests, both the patient and the community.

"Because of higher levels of antibiotic resistance to older drugs in some regions, some doctors are now starting with what should be their second choice of antibiotic, not the first. We need to conserve the effectiveness of all these anti-infective medications as best we can," Dr. McGregor added.

Researchers at Oregon State are developing tools to help physicians select the most appropriate antibiotic for each individual.

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