Doctors aren’t only handing out too many antibiotics, they also are frequently prescribing the wrong ones, researchers and public-health officials say.
Recent studies have shown that doctors are overprescribing broad-spectrum antibiotics, sometimes called the big guns, that kill a wide swath of both good and bad bacteria in the body. Instead, narrow-spectrum antibiotics, like penicillin, amoxicillin and cephalexin, can usually clear up many infections, while targeting a smaller number of bacteria.
Professional organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, and public-health groups such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are pushing doctors to limit the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Among the most common broad-spectrum antibiotics are ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin—a class of drugs known as fluoroquinolones—and azithromycin, which is sold by one drug maker under the brand name Zithromax, or Z-Pak.
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