Anthrax Attacks Didn't Start Antibiotic Panic

Only one in five people who talked to doctor asked for prescription

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WEDNESDAY, Oct. 13, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States did not lead to large numbers of prescription requests for antibiotics or vaccines to protect against the deadly agent, says an article in the Oct. 11 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Nationwide, more than 10,000 affected workers and others were given 3.75 million antibiotic pills through official dispensing campaigns between October 2001 and January 2002. Media reports suggested that even more prescriptions were given out by individual physicians.

However, a review of medical records at a large primary-care practice in New York City found that only one in five patients who talked about bioterrorism with their doctor either requested or received antibiotics.

The review was performed by Cornell University researchers, and covered 30,456 patient visits from Sept. 11 to Dec. 31, 2001.

"While we cannot comment on the New York City population as a whole, our results do not suggest widespread antibiotic abuse in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks, as measured by patient requests and physician prescribing in this academic outpatient practice," the authors wrote in their report.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have more about anthrax.

SOURCES: Archives of Internal Medicine, news release, Oct. 11, 2004

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