Treating otitis media: Less expensive drugs OK

Choosing a less expensive antibiotic will not impair successful treatment of pedia - t ric acute otitis media, the common ear infection of infants and children, according to a recent study.

Led by the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and supported by the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, the study followed 12,381 patients 13 and younger for two years. The study concluded that based on the range of antibiotics available - and ranging in cost from $2.94 to $62.80 for a 10-day treatment for infants 19 to 24 months, for example - substantial savings are possible as treatment proved equally successful no matter what antibiotic was chosen.

Researchers noted prescribing amoxicillin alone, for example, proved just as effective as the use of more expensive antibiotics including cefaclor, cefixine, and amoxicillin/clavulanate. They also reported that although financial incentives played no part in prescribing trends, hospital outpatient departments and community health centers prescribed and dispensed more cheaper antibiotics, while office-based physicians tended to prescribe more expensive antibiotics.