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Outdated antibiotics prescribed for UK gonorrhea patients

Many UK patients with gonorrhoea are being prescribed antibiotics by their GP that are no longer recommended for treating the infection.

Despite being discontinued as a recommended treatment for gonorrhoea in 2005, ciprofloxacin was prescribed for 25% of patients in 2011 and 42% in 2005, research published in the journal BMJ Open today reveals.

This failure to stay updated with national clinical guidance is particularly concerning given the global threat of antibiotic resistance, and means that “significant numbers” of gonorrhoea patients are not effectively treated, said the researchers.

“Practitioners should be alert to the likelihood of revisions to national treatment guidelines and of treatment failure in their patients,” they wrote in their research.

The researchers analysed electronic health records entered anonymously into the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (containing the records of 5.5 million patients registered with 680 general practices around the UK). They also used information from the anonymous monitoring of sexually transmitted infections in England. 

They looked particularly at how doctors in general practice had treated the two most commonly diagnosed bacterial sexually transmitted infections in England, Chlamydia and gonorrhoea, between 2000 and 2011.

See the report titled, Diagnosis and treatment of chlamydia and gonorrhoea in general practice in England 2000-2011: a population-based study using data from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink here.