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March 4, 1974

In Comment

Author Affiliations

Veterans Administration Hospital Madison, Wis

JAMA. 1974;227(9):1030-1032. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230220020004

THE article by Simmons and Stolley confirms the impressions of most clinicians active in the infectious disease field that antibiotics are overused both in office and hospital practice. This is disturbing not only because it reflects unfavorably on the medical profession but has important ecologic and economic consequences. It also adds further problems to an already overmedicated society. We have been particularly concerned with recent trends in hospital practice where the "drugs of fear," (gentamicin, cephalosporins, penicillinase-resistant penicillin, and carbenicillin) account for a huge portion of rising drug costs.1

It seems to me that these problems will not be resolved by a general wringing of hands and certainly will not be solved by defaulting the physician's right to prescribe appropriate drugs to pharmacists or governmental agencies. We must, however, look carefully at the reasons for overuse of antibiotics and try to dissect out those contributory factors that can be