Newsmax “You’re Not Allergic, Maybe: Penicillin-Averse People Could Be Mistaken”

'You're Not Allergic, Maybe': Penicillin-Averse People Could Be Mistaken

Drugs pills, capsules. (Hannu Viitanen/dreamstime)

Friday, 07 Nov 2014 03:54 PM

By Morgan Chilson

"Maybe you're not allergic to penicillin," some doctors are telling their patients after two studies showed a high percentage of people were mistaken about their allergies to this commonly used antibiotic.

HealthDay News reported that one study of 384 people who said they were allergic to penicillin determined that 94 percent of them were actually not. A study about penicillin allergies was presented last week at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

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"A large number of people in our study who had a history of penicillin allergy were actually not allergic," Dr. Thanai Pongdee, lead author of the first study, said in an ACAAI news release. 

"They may have had an unfavorable response to penicillin at some point in the past, such as hives or swelling, but they did not demonstrate any evidence of penicillin allergy at the current time."

A second study, done to determine if it might be possible to reduce the use of expensive antibiotics, found that of 38 people who believed they were allergic to penicillin, none were, the release said.

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Dr. Nasteran Safdarian, with North Texas Allergy and Asthma Associates, told HealthDay that the problem with not using penicillin appropriately is two-pronged.

"From the patient perspective, you end up paying more money for antibiotics that are not penicillin, because they’re a higher tier co-pay, they’re non-generic," she said. "But from a kind of public health standpoint, there is a lot of antibiotic resistance because these broad-range antibiotics are used for patients who really don’t need them."

People who think they may be allergic to penicillin should have a skin test done, HealthDay News said. 

"An evaluation by an allergist for the penicillin and other beta lactam antibiotic allergy is important, is cost-effective and will decrease the use of other more expensive medications," Dr. Luz Fonacier, head of the allergy section in the division of rheumatology, allergy, and immunology at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, New York, told HealthDay.

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