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Long-Term Treatment

A reader wonders about the appropriateness of GPs prescribing medication for long periods of time. 

QUESTION:

I am surprised to find GPs can write prescriptions that last for long periods of time. A friend had an infection three years ago, which apparently never cleared up. She has been taking antibiotics all that time. Another suffered depression after the death of her husband and was prescribed an anti-depressant. She is still taking it five years later. Is this normal?

ANSWER:

It is normal for anti-depressants to be supplied for years as some people have a chronic form of depression that may take years to get over. It is unusual for antibiotics to prescribed for long periods at a time unless it is being used as a preventative medication for a person who has a relapsing infection. This is usually done at a low dose.

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