In Focus:

Doctors Now Say to Stop Antibiotics When You Feel Better

When you’re prescribed a course of antibiotics, it’s important to finish the whole thing. At least, that’s the message that’s been perpetuated for years by doctors, nurses, parents and the media. But now, a group of British doctors are making the case that in most cases, it’s time to drop the “complete the course” mantra, which they say could be doing more harm than good.

In a new analysis in the BMJ, health experts from Brighton and Sussex Medical School, the University of Oxford and other institutions say that the idea that cutting short a course of antibiotics will encourage drug resistance is not supported by evidence. In reality, they say, taking more antibiotics than needed does lead to resistance.

The statement in question “can be traced back to the dawn of the antibiotic era,” the authors wrote in their analysis. Alexander Fleming’s early work showed that sensitive bacteria could be “acclimatized” to penicillin, and in 1945, he spoke about a man who didn’t take enough of the drug and passed strep throat—now in a drug-resistant f

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