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Over-the-Counter Eye Drops Raise Concern Over Antibiotic Resistance

The use of antibiotic eye drops for conjunctivitis has increased by almost half since they became available over the counter at chemists in 2005, data obtained by Oxford University researchers has shown.

This is despite the fact that evidence from clinical trials from around the same time showed the eye drops to have minimal benefit.

The findings, published in the British Journal of General Practice, have implications for further decisions on over-the-counter availability of antibiotics, as it is a widely accepted priority to reduce antibiotic use substantially to limit bacteria acquiring resistance to the drugs.

'It's very important that antibiotics aren't used where they're not needed,' says Dr Peter Rose of the University of Oxford, who led the research. 'We've shown that selling eye drops over the counter for conjunctivitis has resulted in greater use at the same time as the evidence showed they have little benefit.'
 
 

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