Free Antibiotics!

publixWow. I totally missed this last week: Publix, a Florida-based chain of super markets, announced last week that it was offering free antibiotics. With a prescription, of course. But still - this is pretty appalling. I mean, antibiotics are way overprescribed as it is, for just about any condition they’re used for (check out a simple Google search for proof), so the fact that Publix is fomenting that misuse is, well, kinda craven.

So much for the fight against antibiotic resistance, at least in Florida…

Published by: tgoetz on August 14th, 2007 | Filed under Disease, Pathogens

4 Responses to “Free Antibiotics!”

  1. Keith Robison Says:

    A well-taken point, but there is also the issue of treatable illnesses not being treated because of financial concerns.

    If antibiotics are being over-prescribed, isn’t it at the prescriber’s door to whom we should lay blame?

  2. David Hamilton Says:

    You know, Publix is only offering free antibiotics with a prescription. So if there’s overuse of antibiotics in Florida, it would seem to be a primary physician problem, not just that of the company that’s looking for a way to differentiate itself now that it’s decided not to match Wal-Mart’s $4 prescriptions fills anymore.

  3. tgoetz Says:

    A couple things:
    1) Publix is getting publicity on this - meaning consumers will be more likely to seek prescriptions. Studies have shown that when patients ask for a prescription, they’e likely to get it.

    2) Likewise, I think physicians will be more likely to prescribe antibiotics because they know they’re free - ‘can’t hurt,’ etc. So whoever’s writing the prescriptions, Publix is simply generating more market demand for something that really shouldn’t be a marketing tool in the first place.

  4. David Hamilton Says:

    Fair enough, and I should have read the original post more carefully, since of course you mentioned the prescriptions. (One of the hazards of early-morning commenting.)

    That said, I still think the onus should be on the medical community to take a stand against overuse of antibiotics — the Publix program is a symptom, not a cause of the underlying problem. If we can’t count on doctors not just to push pills whenever their patients ask for them, this particular war is already lost regardless of what the Publixes of the world do.

    Yes, of course, the Publix program is thoughtless and counterproductive, although you can see where the store is coming from in a business sense — they want to differentiate themselves from Wal-Mart, but don’t want to be on the hook for someone’s lifelong statin prescription, so hey presto! They’ll subsidize a limited course of antibiotics instead. Too bad they didn’t choose something relatively harmless, like vitamins.

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