Drugs: Why Stiftung Warentest recommends careful use of some antibiotics

Parents have felt the pain of just how important antibiotics are – recently antibiotic juices for children in particular have been in short supply.

Drugs: Why Stiftung Warentest recommends careful use of some antibiotics

Parents have felt the pain of just how important antibiotics are – recently antibiotic juices for children in particular have been in short supply. In June 2023, the federal government reacted to the problem with a new legal regulation. Whether and how quickly the deficiencies can be remedied only time will tell. Stiftung Warentest examined 85 prescription antibiotics with 29 different active ingredients.

The result: Most antibiotics that are prescribed in Germany for tonsillitis or cystitis, for example, are suitable for the respective purpose. But there are also means that the product testers only consider suitable to a limited extent. In order to find out more about the drugs, Stiftung Warentest had experts analyze studies on antibiotics. It was examined whether there are meaningful scientific studies on the effectiveness of the funds. And whether the benefits of the drugs outweigh the possible risks.

"When choosing an antibiotic, doctors take individual characteristics into account - and which infection is present," says Professor Winfried Kern, infection medicine specialist at the University Hospital Freiburg, to the Stiftung Warentest. Not every active ingredient is suitable for every disease. Penicillin, for example, mainly fights germs such as streptococci, so it can be used well for tonsillitis or scarlet fever.

Some antibiotic active ingredients are not only effective against certain bacteria, but against a whole range of germs. Stiftung Warentest therefore recommends careful use of broad-spectrum antibiotics such as cephalosporins, macrolides and tetracyclines. Because: Such broad-spectrum antibiotics can promote resistance. Bacteria thus become insensitive to the respective active ingredients. This means that the next time the antibiotic is given, it would no longer be effective against the bacteria. And another means would have to be used.

Certain broad-spectrum antibiotics, the fluoroquinolones, carry the risk of serious side effects, so they should only be prescribed for severe infections when there are no other treatment options, advises the European Medicines Agency. The product testers advise patients who have been prescribed a drug with the ending "floxacin" to ask again whether it is really necessary.

Taking antibiotics can also lead to digestive problems such as diarrhea. Antibiotics often fight beneficial germs in the gastrointestinal tract. Normally, the intestine recovers after ingestion. However, it can also help to eat probiotic foods such as natural yoghurt or to take special probiotics from the pharmacy while taking them.

You can find the complete (chargeable) test at Stiftung Warentest!

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