A study released on Wednesday claims that a small number of people are taking antibiotics designed for fish leading to dangerous unintended consequences.
Co-author Brandon Bookstaver, Pharm.D., director of residency and fellowship training at the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, released a statement expressing concern over the trend.
“While human consumption of fish antibiotics is likely low, any consumption by humans of antibiotics intended for animals is alarming,” Bookstaver said. “Self-medication and the availability of antibiotics without healthcare oversight might contribute to increasing antimicrobial resistance and delayed appropriate treatment. We were particularly concerned that the high volume of positive feedback on the comments about human use might encourage others to attempt to use these drugs.”
What makes fish antibiotics unique is that its available over the counter. A bottle of 30 tablets sell for as low as $8.99 online, the study found.
The study found that 55 out of 2,288 interviewed admitted to taking fish antibiotics. But what concerned Michael Ganio, ASHP Director of Pharmacy Practice and Quality, is that the fish pills have the same look as human antibiotics.
“What might seem like a less expensive, easier way to treat an assumed infection can ultimately have very serious negative consequences,” said Ganio. “Unlike antibiotics for humans or other animals, these medications are completely unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Even if the pills look the same, it’s impossible to know that medications purchased in this manner contain what the label says and are safe for humans. Antibiotics, like all medications, should be dispensed from a licensed pharmacy after a diagnosis and prescription from a medical professional.”