A program in health clinics where physicians offer patients a cough and cold care kit containing over the counter medicines appears to significantly reduce unnecessary antibiotic use. Researchers from the Minnesota Antibiotic Resistance Collaborative (MARC) report their findings today at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
"Providing cough and cold care kits does appear to be a useful tool to use with patients who have upper respiratory illness or acute bronchitis to decrease unnecessary antibiotic use," says Pamala Gahr of the Minnesota Department of Health, a researcher on the study.
The kits were initially produced by three local health plans that began distributing through their clinics during the 2000-2001 winter season. They consist of a colorful box filled with pain relievers, decongestant, cough syrup, lozenges, a packet of powdered chicken soup and a teabag. The following year 6 local health plans distributed approximately 31,000 kits.
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