How dogma trumps evidence in the practice of prescribing antibiotics

Helen Lambert 150Professor Helen Lambert is Professor of Medical Anthropology in the Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Bristol. Her long-term work concerns popular therapeutics and medical plurality in India. She was the ESRC’s Research Champion for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) from 2015-2017 and is leading an interdisciplinary research collaboration on Pathways to Antibiotic Use in China with colleagues at Anhui Medical University.

Most of the UK population have grown up with the message that patients must complete their course of antibiotics to stop drug resistance developing. A recent paper in the British Medical Journal caused international controversy by pointing out that far from preventing the emergence of antibacterial resistance, greater exposure to antibiotics increases the risk of acquiring resistant pathogens; and where research evidence exists, shorter courses of antibiotics are mostly (though not always) as effective as longer ones.

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