In the UK alone, doctors are handing out around 1.6 million unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics at a cost of lb8.4 million every year, researchers have discovered.
The drugs do absolutely nothing to ease diseases that are caused by a virus - and they add to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistance.
Researchers from Cardiff University have estimated the over-use of antibiotics from a survey of 68 GP practices. When the doctors at the practices were taught the kind of diseases for which antibiotics should be prescribed, their prescriptions for the drugs fell by 5.5 per cent, resulting in an lb830 saving per practice. If this saving was extrapolated across the UK, total annual savings would amount to lb8.4m.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2012; 344: d8173).