Ask Dr Miriam.
Byline: DR MIRIAM STOPPARD
Q I have found several bottles of unfinished antibiotics. I'm feeling guilty as I've always understood you should take the full course of a prescription. Have I done myself harm?
A I don't think so. Yes, I know the received wisdom is if you stop taking an antibiotic part way through, bacteria can become resistant.
So by stopping prematurely you're contributing to the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.
Well, there's been a change of heart. Louis Rice, an infectious disease expert from Brown University in the US, has argued for 10 years that the reasons for finishing a course are wrong. An Australian expert wrote in 2015 that it's a misconception that resistance emerges if the course isn't completed.
A report for the World Health Organisation on patient safety says, "the shorter the course, the lower the resistance".