Why Chinese Patients So Often Come Home from Clinic with Antibiotics

Antibiotics are often prescribed unnecessarily for colds in China, in part because hospitals sell medications directly to patients and doctors’ bonuses often depend on drug revenue, says a team led by Janet Currie of Princeton. In a past study by other researchers, two-thirds of patients visiting clinics with mild cold or flu symptoms received inappropriate prescriptions for antibiotics, and many were advised to take powerful “second-line” antibiotics that are supposed to be reserved for serious illnesses. These prescriptions impose substantial costs on patients, raise the risk of side effects, and foster growth of drug-resistant “superbugs,” Currie and her colleagues say.

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