GAO finds gaps in antibiotics data

The federal government should improve its tracking of antibiotics, the Government Accountability Office said Friday.

The GAO cited gaps in federal programs designed to monitor the use of antibiotics. Incomplete information gets in the way of determining the extent to which overuse contributes to antibiotic resistance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts some monitoring of antibiotics and promotes "appropriate use." But its tracking doesn't include total U.S. usage of antibiotics.

"CDC is taking steps to improve its monitoring, but gaps such as information about overall antibiotic use will remain," the GAO said. "Because use contributes to resistance, more complete information could help policymakers determine what portion of antibiotic resistance is attributed to human antibiotic use, and set priorities for action to control the spread of resistance."

The GAO recommended that CDC develop new plans for monitoring antibiotics.