Shorter pneumonia treatment just as effective, study says

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Shortening antibiotic treatment of pneumonia to three days instead of the usual seven to 10 can be just as effective, according to new research.

In addition, the shorter course of treatment might help reduce general antibiotic consumption and antibiotic resistant respiratory infections, according to researchers at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam.

Researchers divided pneumonia patients into two groups. One was given intravenous amoxicillin for three days followed by placebo and the other group received eight days of antibiotic treatment. After 10 days, both groups had a clinical success rate of 93%. Nearly a month later, the placebo group's success rate was 88%, versus a 90% success rate for the group with the longer course of treatment.

Although the accepted practice is to prescribe antibiotic therapy for several days after symptoms have improved, researchers contend that more studies are needed to show the benefits of shorter antibiotic therapies for infections.

The study report appears in the June 10 issue of the British Medical Journal.