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Newer drugs more effective at curing strep throat than penicillin

Pediatricians treating a child who has strep throat should reconsider the role of penicillin given that a newer class of antibiotics called cephalosporins are three times more effective, according to a study being published in the April issue of Pediatrics. The findings will spark widespread debate, because they contradict long-established guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, and World Health Organization.

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can be spread by personal contact, including coughing or sneezing, often affecting school-age children. Penicillin is considered the gold standard for treating strep throat, but pediatricians should realize that cephalosporins are more effective in killing the germs, says Janet Casey, M.D., the study's lead author and a University of Rochester Medical Center pediatrician. Cephalosporin drugs such as Cephalexin, Cefadroxil, and Cefprozil, Cephdinir are oral medications that come in liquid and pill forms, and are safe for infants, children, and teens.

The new study presents findings from a meta-analysis, a review of previous studies done about the efficacy of cephalosporin drugs and penicillin. "We carefully examined 35 studies done since 1969, all of which discussed whether cephalosporin or penicillin are more effective in treating strep throat," Casey says, noting more than 7,000 children participated in the studies. "Children who have strep throat will have a superior outcome if they receive cephalosporin rather than penicillin." The findings indicate that the newer class of drugs has a more impressive bacterial cure rate.

First-generation cephalosporin drugs, such as Cephalexin and Cefadroxil, are comparable in cost to penicillin, and provide the same narrow-spectrum effect, Casey says. Using a drug that has a narrow spectrum is important because it is targeted enough to cure the bacteria, but not so strong that it causes resistance, which could l
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Contact: Travis Anderson
travis_anderson@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
5-Apr-2004


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