When patients are likely to develop immunity to infection, the duration of antibiotic treatments can be shortened without harm, thus delaying the spread of drug resistance and its concomitant public health impacts, according to this model-based analysis.
With attention focused on reducing overprescription, there has been little examination of whether drug resistance in the population can be slowed by reducing the dosage and duration of antibiotic treatments. This study relies on ecological theory and mathematical models to predict the behavior of bacteria in different situations in order to develop a theory of when antibiotic treatments can be shortened, and a framework for continued study of treatment design.
The study suggests the current "one-size-fits-all" view of antibiotic dosing is too simple. Noting the public health impacts of drug resistance, the authors call for the development of a functional taxonomy of pathogens and a complex, dynamic understanding of drug dosing.
This study was funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation support to Extending the Cure, a research and consultative effort that examines incentive-based policy solutions to curb antibiotic resistance based on the understanding that antibiotics are a shared resource that must be conserved. The project is based at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in Washington, D.C.