New Test Could Potentially Prevent Over-Prescribing Antibiotics

Testing before prescribing antibiotics could prevent antibiotic resistance.

Researchers in a recent study found that a rapid test can reduce antibiotic use for respiratory infections, and could potentially prevent antibiotic resistance.

This test is able to detect C-reactive protein (CRP), a blood biomarker for bacterial infections. If a patient has a low level of CRP, the infection is likely viral and does not require antibiotic treatment. In a study published by The Lancet Global Health, researchers recorded antibiotic use for 2000 patients who did or did not receive the rapid test.

Researchers found a reduction in antibiotic use in patients, and patients had the same recovery.

“There were large differences in the effect of the intervention between health centers; one center saw no effect due to antibiotic stocks they wanted to get rid of,” said principal investigator Heiman Wertheim, MD, PhD. “This nicely illustrates one of the practical obstacles that need to be overcome.”

This test shows the potential to be widely applicable since they have been found to be cost-effective and accurate, according to the study.

“With this easy-to-use tool, primary healthcare providers can safely limit the unnecessary antibiotic use for viral respiratory infections. The study provides important evidence for simple solutions in antibiotic stewardship programs,” researcher Nguyen Van Kinh, MD, PhD, concluded. “To enable a large scale implementation, further studies assessing cost-effectiveness of this intervention are needed.”