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Doctors warn online antibiotic purchases are a growing problem

"Think you need antibiotics to fight that cough or cold? Numerous Web sites are willing to sell them to you without a doctor's prescription — a loophole, researchers say, that could undermine efforts to curb the problem of bacteria that shrug off powerful antibiotics.

In a simple Internet search, investigators found 138 online vendors that sell antibiotics without a doctor's prescription. More than one third supplied the drugs with no questions asked, while 64 percent made their own prescriptions after having prospective customers fill out an online health survey.

The problem, the researchers report in the Annals of Family Medicine, is that these antibiotics are likely to be used inappropriately.

And that, in turn, could contribute to the major and growing problem of antibiotic resistance — where populations of bacteria become immune to the drugs that once controlled them."

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