Antibiotics Used Longer than Needed to Treat Acne in Some Teens

Published Online: Thursday, May 15, 2014
Although guidelines suggest that oral antibiotics to treat acne should only be taken for 3 to 6 months, the results of a recent study suggest that many teens are taking the medications at longer durations.

The study, published online on April 8, 2014, in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, compared the duration of oral antibiotic use among adolescents with recent acne treatment guidelines using claims data. The retrospective cohort study also estimated the potential cost savings if longer treatments were shortened to meet guidelines.

On average, antibiotic treatment lasted for 129 days. A majority (57.8%) of patients were not treated with concomitant topical retinoid therapy. Patients who did receive topical retinoid therapy used antibiotics for an average of 133 days, and those who did not use the additional medication used antibiotics for 127 days, on average. Most patients (93%) received antibiotics for fewer than 9 months; however, 17.53% of treatment courses exceeded 6 months. The results indicated that antibiotic treatment longer than 6 months resulted in a direct excess cost of $580.99 per patient. The results are limited as the claims data do not specify the diagnosis, provider, or acne severity.

Although the results indicate that treatment with antibiotics is decreasing compared with previous data, the study authors note that antibiotic use can still be further reduced.

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