When Terry Bravo got a urinary tract infection in 2018, he took his mother’s unused antibiotics, left over from a prescription his mother never finished four years ago. Bravo said it was the only antibiotic he could take.
He said that even though Bravo has health insurance, it’s very expensive and covers almost nothing.
“I may not be either,” he said.
Taking her mother’s old medication made Bravo nervous about possible side effects and negative interactions with other medications. He wasn’t even sure the medicine would work.
“In retrospect, I should have gone to the doctor and gotten a prescription for the right medication,” Bravo said. “There are too many antibiotics, and just because something is called an antibiotic doesn’t mean it’s right.”
like bravo almost half Proportion of Americans who admit they are not taking antibiotics as prescribed. For many underserved and low-income communities, cost is a major barrier to obtaining appropriate treatment or medication.
Sometimes people who can’t afford their meds may not take the entire dose to save some for future use. This practice of not completing the prescribed dose kills only weaker microbes and leaves stronger microbes behind. Over time, this practice, as well as the general overuse of antibiotics in the community, antibiotic resistanceone of the types antimicrobial resistance (AMR). AMR occurs when microbes such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites develop resistance to drugs used to treat them.
“Sometimes patients don’t have money. contribution margin They can write an antibiotic prescription at the pharmacy, reduce the drug dose, or save money by not taking antibiotic prescriptions as often as recommended. Oladele “Dele” Ogunseitan, Ph.D., an expert in antimicrobial resistance and management, and chair of the chair and professor of population health and disease prevention in the University of California, Irvine Program in Public Health. “This is a very dangerous practice because low doses of antibiotics can be ineffective and are more likely to produce antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”
This Kaiser Family Foundation It found that people with less education and lower incomes were more likely to believe that antibiotics could cure viral infections, or that they didn’t know what types of infections antibiotics treated, increasing their risk of abusing antimicrobial drugs.
Lack of health education is not the only factor contributing to AMR. Low-income communities typically have fewer places where people can dispose of antibiotics appropriately, according to Ogunseitan. Improper disposal of antibiotics can contaminate the water supply and lead to the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant insects. People who do not have health insurance and do not have access to preventive care may also not find out early that they have an infection, which Ogunseitan says can lead to stubbornly resistant infections.
Social factors such as income and education AMR risk However, research shows that these factors also Risk of harm from AMR. For example, low-income communities may have higher infection rates and lower access to affordable healthcare. With the ability to pay less for multiple or more expensive treatments, it may not be realistic to try more than one antimicrobial drug if first-line treatments fail. In contrast, people who don’t have insurance or can’t afford treatment are more vulnerable to serious or incurable infections.
To reduce AMR, Ogunseitan proposes policies and programs to educate children about antibiotic resistance from primary school, to eliminate the use of antibiotics in agriculture other than to treat sick animals, and to ensure that antibiotic-free food products do not cost more than they cost. Contains antibiotics.
Ogunseitan also said healthcare providers need education about the disease. social determinants of health To avoid underdiagnoses or biased assumptions that some patients will not be able to afford co-pays or take medication as prescribed.
“Knowledge is power, especially in public health,” Ogunseitan said—for patients and providers alike.
This resource was created with the support of Pfizer Inc.