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Prescription medication being dispensed
Recent studies have shown that American doctors are over-prescribing antibiotics (among other medications) at alarming rates:
U.S. doctors are prescribing enough antibiotics to give them to 4 out of 5 Americans every year, an alarming pace that suggests they are being overused, a new government study finds.

Overuse is one reason antibiotics are losing their punch, making infections harder to treat. The report released Wednesday gives the first detailed look at usage of these medicines in every state and finds it highest in the South and Appalachia.

Fortunately, Dr. Gregory Storch, a St. Louis pediatrician, is developing a test that may drastically cut down on antibiotic prescription rates. His test would determine whether an infection is viral or bacterial:
Fevers are a common symptom of many infectious diseases, but it can be difficult to tell whether viruses or bacteria are the cause. By measuring gene activity in the blood of 22 sick children, Gregory Storch, a pediatrician and infectious disease researcher at Washington University in St. Louis and colleagues were able to distinguish bacteria-sparked fevers from ones kindled by viruses. The activity of hundreds of genes changed as the children’s immune systems responded to the pathogens, but the team found that gauging the response of just 18 genes could correctly distinguish between viral and bacterial infections about 90 percent of the time. The gene activity test could also determine, for viral infections, which specific microbes caused the illness, the team reports July 15 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Storch’s technique isn’t ready for the clinic; for one thing, it takes days to do the assay and doctors need answers much sooner. But Storch says he’s working to develop a test that could be used in hospitals and doctor’s offices.

Let's hope they can get this test on the market sooner than later.

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