Pharmaceutical

Most emergency visits from drug reactions caused by antibiotics

Adverse reactions to antibiotics send more than 140,000 Americans to the emergency room every year, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and reported this month by Natural News.

Researchers centered their focus on antibiotics that were either ingested or injected rather than those that are applied to the skin. Data was pulled from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance project. The data showed that 19 percent of all emergency visits for adverse reactions to drugs were due to antibiotics.

Seventy-eight percent of the time those adverse events were caused by allergic reactions to the antibiotics and resulted in rashes and anaphylaxis. Other causes were accidental overdoses, unintentional exposures (such as children accidentally taking the medication), and side effects such as headaches, dizziness and diarrhea.

Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a rare but serious reaction to medication including antibiotics such as sulfonamides and penicillin. It is defined as a hypersensitivity disorder affecting the skin and mucous membranes and expresses itself first as a simple rash known as erythema multiforme.

Penicillin and similar-type antibiotics accounted for the majority of adverse events that resulted in emergency room visits, with penicillin alone attributing 36.9 percent of the visits. For every 10,000 outpatient prescription visits, reactions to sulfonamides resulted in 18.9 of emergency room visits. Sulfonamides also had a much higher rate of moderate-to-severe allergic reactions compared to medications in other antibiotic classes.

According to Dr. Daniel S. Budnitz, the leader of the study, “Antibiotics are among the most frequently used medications in the United States. Annually, antibiotics are prescribed to an estimated 16 percent of patients during ambulatory care visits, and pharmaceutical manufacturers spend $1 billion promoting antibiotics.” The report continues, “more than one-half of the estimated 100 million antibiotic prescriptions written in the community each year for respiratory tract infections may be unnecessary.”