Free Antibiotics: The Wrong Prescription for Cold and Flu Season

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The Infectious Disease Society of America is trying to discourage a problematic advertising gimmick on the part of several U.S. pharmacies this winter. The drug stores are offering free antibiotics (with a doctor's prescription). 

For decades, doctors have claimed that they know they shouldn't prescribe antibiotics for viral infections such as colds and the flu, but that it's easier to satisfy a demanding patient than explain that antibiotics work against bacteria, not viruses. The new freebie offers are likely to make the patient pressure worse, the IDSA concludes. That's bad news because the more we use antibiotics, the more we speed the growth of multi-drug resistance in the bacteria that pervade our bodies and our environment.

The better solution: Free flu shots.

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