Martin J Llewelyn, Jennifer M Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Darwin et al.
BMJ 2017; 358 (Published 26 July 2017)
5 pp. 998 kB
The idea that stopping antibiotic treatment early encourages antibiotic resistance is not supported by evidence, while taking antibiotics for longer than necessary increases the risk of resistance. Without explicitly contradicting previous advice, current public information materials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health England have replaced “complete the course” with messages advocating taking antibiotics “exactly as prescribed.” The authors explore the evidence for antibiotic duration, clinical effectiveness, and resistance, and encourage policy makers, educators, and doctors to stop advocating “complete the course” when communicating with the public. Further, they should publicly and actively state that this was not evidence-based and is incorrect.