Study finds wide disparities in antibiotic prescribing rates between South, Midwest

Research estimates 50% of antibiotic prescriptions unnecessary

NEW YORK — Research has indicated that about half of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary, raising concerns about the growth of bacteria resistant to them, but a new study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also finds that prescriptions are highest in several states in the South and Midwest.

The study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, was based on a database maintained by IMS Health that includes a sample of more than 70% of U.S. prescriptions.

The study found 258 million courses of antibiotics prescribed in 2010, or 833 prescriptions per 1,000 people. Prescribing rates in the South were 936 per 1,000 people, compared with 639 in the West.

The highest rates — ranging from 996 to 1,237 prescriptions per 1,000 people — were found in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia, as well as the Midwestern states of Indiana and North Dakota. The lowest rates were found in Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado, Vermont and New Hampshire.

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