An analysis of medical records by researchers finds that patients with severe acne are often prescribed ineffective antibiotics to treat the condition. The delay in switching to a more powerful treatment plan creates a cycle of overuse among patients as the bacteria grows increasingly resistant to the antibiotic treatments.
The study conducted at NTU Langone Medical Center looked at the medical histories of 137 patients over 12 years of age and treated at NYU Langone for severe cases of acne between the years of 2005 and 2014.
The study senior investigator, Dr. Seth Orlow, says the evidence shows that physicians need to more quickly identify cases in which patients are not improving with antibiotic therapy.
Our study suggests that physicians need to recognize within weeks, not months, when patients are failing to respond to antibiotic therapy in cases of severe acne.
Dr. Orlow also describes a situation where physicians and patients aren’t taking enough caution when it comes to overuse of antibiotics and the increase of microbial drug resistance.
Physicians and patients have become far too complacent about antibiotic overuse and its subsequent danger of increasing microbial drug resistance.
The study findings can be found in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology according to Eurekalert.
The study reports that patients with severe acne were kept on ineffective antibiotic treatments for an average of 11 months before it was discovered that the medication was not helping. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily for that long increases antibiotic resistance for no gain.
Among the 137 patients that eventually took a drug called isotretinoin, there was a 6 month average wait between when the drug was suggested and the patient started taking it. News Medical reports that because of risks of birth defects, concerns about depression and other side effects, there are stringent controls placed on isotretinoin.
Lead investigator and dermatologist, Arielle Nagler, states that the fears of isotretinoin side effects and restrictions to prevent medication use during pregnancy have helped to keep patients on ineffective antibiotics longer.
Dr. Nagler explains that acne is the most common reason young patients visit a dermatologist and that isotretinoin is the most effective drug for severe acne treatment. She urges that physicians note when antibiotics aren’t working sooner in order to get treatment earlier for patients who need it.
Acne remains the number one reason for young people to visit a dermatologist, and there are no other medications as effective as isotretinoin for treating severe cases of the skin condition.We need to find a better balance between trying antibiotics that may work and getting isotretinoin quickly to patients for whom antibiotics are not working. Physicians also need to start talking to their acne patients earlier about possible isotretinoin therapy, so when and if they do need to switch to it, patients are more receptive to the drug and any concerns about side effects have already begun to be addressed.
Other recent news about antibiotics include a study that shows that antibiotics in pregnancy is not linked to birth defects.