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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

House Call: Study Shows Cipro Resistance Growing

Aired February 19, 2003 - 07:52   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: The drug that made headlines during the anthrax scare, Cipro, may not be working so well now.
Making a "House Call" this morning with more on the story, CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

Good morning -- Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Paula.

Paula, antibiotics are one of the miracles of modern medicine, but when they get overused, it can make them much less effective. And according to a study in the "Journal of the American Medical Association," that appears to be happening with Cipro. Cipro was, of course, the drug that gained fame during the anthrax scare.

Now, this would not affect its effectiveness with anthrax, but there is concern that Cipro could be less effective against other types of bacteria.

Let's take a look at the numbers. What these researchers did was they put Cipro in Petri dishes with various kinds of bacteria. They had them fight it out, and they saw how effective Cipro was. In 1994, they found that Cipro was 86 percent effective against these bacteria, but in 2000, they found that it was just 76 percent effective. That is a big loss in just that short a period of time.

And so, researchers say we need to use Cipro less if we want to maintain its effectiveness -- Paula.

ZAHN: Describe to us how this resistance occurs?

COHEN: Right. What happens is, is that bacteria are little and ugly, but they're actually smart. So, somebody introduces a new antibiotic, a lot of people use it. And the bacteria at first are killed, but then they say, hey, we need to adapt to this, we need to learn how to outsmart this new drug. And so, they learn how to do that. So, over time, more and more bacteria come into the community that know how to outsmart the drugs, and that means that you take the drug and it won't do anything against the bacteria.

ZAHN: So, if doctors know all of this, why does it continue to be over-prescribed?

COHEN: You know, doctors discuss this often. There have been various studies that show that doctors prescribe Cipro, which is one of the newer, better of what they call a broader antibiotic, even when they could prescribe an older one. They prescribe these sort of killer antibiotics even when they don't need to.

Some people say that a lot of it is patient pressure. They come to the doctor, and they say, doctor, I'm sick, I need an antibiotic, and the doctor gives it to them even when they really donít need it.

ZAHN: Elizabeth Cohen, we've got to leave it there this morning. Thanks for that "House Call."

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