A new report from the World Health Organization reveals that the vast majority of antibiotics prescribed to humans in the U.S. are not effective for treating infections.
The report, published Monday, highlights that antibiotics are still prescribed to more than 80 percent of the people in the United States who need them, which makes them the most commonly used drug in the country.
“In the United Kingdom, for example, a quarter of all prescriptions for antibiotics are for antibiotics used for infectious diseases, and a third of antibiotics are used to treat infectious diseases in other countries,” the report reads.
“In Australia, the figure is closer to 40 percent.
In Mexico, it is closer in half to 20 percent.”
The report notes that the United Nations recommends that antibiotics be used for treatment of infections and that they be prescribed only if there is a good and documented case of the infection, and they should be given only when the patient is receiving the treatment.
“It is important to keep in mind that the most common reason given for not prescribing antibiotics is that they are not well tolerated by patients,” the WHO report reads, “and in the majority of cases, they are ineffective.”
In its report, the WHO highlighted that “only about 3 percent of antibiotic prescriptions in the US are for infectious disease, and more than 60 percent are for non-infectious diseases.”
The findings come as the U, as a country, is the biggest prescriber of antibiotics in the world.
The WHO’s report notes, however, that the drug industry and the government are not doing enough to help alleviate the shortage.
“The United States is not doing a great job of encouraging antibiotic use,” the UN report reads about the drug market.
“It is estimated that only around 6 percent of U. S. prescriptions for noninfectious drugs were for antibiotics in 2014, but this figure is growing at a rate of more than 1,300 percent.”
Many states have been slow to adopt and implement policies to encourage antibiotic use.
The United States has been the only country to not pass a federal law on antibiotics,” the agency said.
In the report, a spokesperson for the US Food and Drug Administration told the agency that “prescription-drug data indicate that over 90 percent of all antibiotics prescribed are not efficacious for the treatment of human infections, with over one-third of these antibiotics being ineffective for the primary treatment of infectious disease.”
In response to the report the agency noted that “the U.s. pharmaceutical industry has made tremendous progress in improving its understanding of antibiotics and improving their use.”
The agency also pointed out that “despite this, in the last 10 years, there have been more than 500,000 deaths associated with antibiotic use, an increase of nearly two-thirds from 2010.”