The antibiotic amoxicillin is usually ineffective against respiratory infections such as the common cold, as a new study has now shown. It only performs like a placebo, but has more side effects.
Amoxicillin does not contribute to faster recovery or a reduction in symptoms than a dummy drug, according to the results of an international research team that have now been published in the medical journal “The Lancet”. 2,061 adults from twelve European countries had received either the antibiotic or a placebo for a respiratory infection three times a day for seven days for seven days, but the scientists could not find any significant differences in the length or severity of the symptoms. “Using amoxicillin to treat patients with respiratory infections who are not suspected of having pneumonia is unlikely to help, but could be harmful,” warns Paul Little, Head of Studies at the University of Southampton. Especially when they are ineffective, side effects such as diarrhea, rash or nausea often occur. Other doctors therefore also see the need not always to resort to antibiotics straight away when they have a cold. “Little and his colleagues have presented convincing data that should encourage general practitioners to avoid antibiotics in low-risk patients if there is no suspicion of pneumonia,” said Philipp Schütz from Aarau Cantonal Hospital in Switzerland.