Find a Clinician

Survey: Many Parents Share Leftover Antibiotics

November 13, 2018

Survey: Many Parents Share Leftover Antibiotics

According to a recent online survey of nearly 500 U.S. parents, about 48 percent say they have kept leftover antibiotics rather than properly dispose of them.  Of those, 73 percent later gave the drugs to siblings, unrelated children and adults, sometimes months after the antibiotic was originally prescribed.  Some of the parents used the leftover antibiotics themselves.


This is very dangerous.  Taking antibiotics for colds and other viral illnesses not only won’t work, but it can also have dangerous side effects — over time, this practice actually helps create bacteria that are harder to kill.

So what should you do when your child gets sick?  To minimize the risk of antibiotic resistance, keep these tips in mind:

  • Take antibiotics only for bacterial infections.
    It’s a good idea to let milder illnesses (especially those thought to be caused by viruses) run their course.  This helps prevent antibiotic-resistant germs from developing.  But leave it to your doctor to decide if an illness is “mild” or not.
  • Seek advice and ask questions.
    Ask your doctor about whether your child’s illness is bacterial or viral, and discuss the risks and benefits of antibiotics.  If it’s a virus, ask about ways to treat symptoms.  Don’t pressure your doctor to prescribe antibiotics.

If you are considering giving leftover antibiotics to a child, sibling, other family member, or friend because of the cost of the visit or the prescription, remember:

  • Through the Shawnee Financial Assistance Program, Shawnee Health Service can provide discounts for services provided at our community health centers.  This program can be used by people who are uninsured and people with insurance who have deductibles and co-pays and are determined eligible.  Eligibility is based on family size and gross income (before taxes and deductions).
  • Shawnee Health Care, Pharmacy participates in the Public Health Service Drug Pricing Program authorized under Section 340B of the Public Health Service Act.  The 340B Program allows Health Center patients to purchase prescription drugs at significant savings.


Below is the full text of the original article:

FRIDAY, Nov. 2, 2018 (HealthDay News) — An “alarming” number of American parents save unused antibiotics and give them to family members and other people, a new study finds.


This type of misuse helps fuel antibiotic resistance, the study authors said. Their report is scheduled for presentation Monday in Orlando, Fla., at the national conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).


“This is dangerous not only for those given antibiotics that weren’t prescribed for them, but for entire populations of people who some antibiotics may no longer help when the bacteria they target become resistant to them,” study senior author Dr. Ruth Milanaik said in an AAP news release.


Milanaik directs the neonatal neurodevelopmental follow-up program at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.


The researchers conducted an online survey of nearly 500 U.S. parents and found that about 48 percent said they’d kept leftover antibiotics rather than properly dispose of them.


Of those, 73 percent later gave the drugs to siblings, unrelated children and unrelated adults, sometimes months after the antibiotic was originally prescribed. Some of the parents also used the leftover antibiotics themselves.


A common reason parents gave for keeping unused antibiotics was to avoid the cost of a second trip to the doctor.


The dosage of the unused antibiotics given to others was typically the prescribed dosage, or was estimated based on the age of the child, the study authors said.


The survey also found that 16 percent of parents said they’d given adult medications to their children.


Milanaik said more needs to be done to educate parents about antibiotics and the risks of taking them without proper medical consultation.


“Although the discovery of antibiotics has revolutionized medicine, it is imperative that clinicians emphasize the importance of [proper use and disposal of these medications] to make sure they remain an effective tool against infectious diseases,” she said.


Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary unless published in a peer-reviewed journal.



Posted in Blog, News by marketing

All Shawnee Health clinics are currently closed. If you need to get ahold of the On-Call Provider, call 618-519-9200, press option #1, select your “specialty” needed and follow the prompts for our On-Call Provider. If you are dealing with an emergency please call 911 or visit the ER.

Skip to content