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Amoxicillin ‘ineffective’ for LRTI symptoms, study of 2,000 patients finds

Amoxicillin has little effect in the treatment of coughs and bronchitis and could even be harmful, an analysis has found.  

The antibiotic "is no more effective" at relieving the symptoms of lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) than the "use of no medication", according to the study of more than 2,000 GP patients.

Patients across 12 European countries who were suffering from LRTI were given either amoxicillin or a placebo three times a day for seven days, in the study published in the Lancet. 

The antibiotic "is no more effective" at relieving the symptoms of lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) than the "use of no medication".

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The researchers found there was little difference in the duration of the patients' symptoms between the groups, although new or worsening symptoms were less common among the amoxicillin group.

They also found 29 per cent of patients taking amoxicillin suffered side effects including nausea, rash and diarrhoea, compared to 24 per cent in the placebo group.

"Patients given amoxicillin don't recover much quicker or have significantly fewer symptoms," said Paul Little of the University of Southampton who led the research.

"Our results show that most people get better on their own. But, given that a small number of patients will benefit from antibiotics the challenge remains to identify these individuals," he said.

The self-care forum said the study provided further evidence that most coughs and colds could be self-treated.

"Andtibiotics don't work in the treatment of coughs, colds and sore throats and evidence shows that coughs last three weeks, and sore throats a week, no matter what we do," said GP Dr Pete Smith.

As part of last month's European Antibiotics Awareness Day organised by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, patients were reminded about the unnecessary overuse of antibiotics, which it was warned could encourage antibiotic resistance.

How effective do you think amoxicillin is for the treatment of coughs and bronchitis?

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