DRUG NEWS: Nothing lasts forever

July 2004 
Volume 34  Number 7
Pages 26 - 26
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    New research casts doubt on the belief that someone who's had an allergic reaction to penicillin is allergic to it for life. Previous studies suggested that about 60% of people who've had one allergic reaction to penicillin will have a repeat reaction. The current study, which was much larger than any previous ones, found that less than 2% had repeat allergic responses.

    American researchers reviewed 3.4 million electronic medical records for people in Great Britain who'd received penicillin between 1987 and 2001. About 6,000 of them had experienced an allergic response after a first dose of penicillin. Of those, about half received a second dose. Only 1.9% of these people experienced a second allergic reaction.

    Researchers say their study suggests that some patients who believe they have a penicillin allergy may be able to safely take the drug in an emergency or if an alternative would be inferior. But critics ...

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