Antibiotics on Demand: Advances in Asynchronous Telemedicine Call for Increased Antibiotic Surveillance

Clin Infect Dis. 2024 Feb 17;78(2):308-311. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciad472.


The rapid growth of telehealth services has brought about direct-to-consumer telemedicine platforms, enabling patients to request antibiotics online without a virtual or face-to-face consultation. While telemedicine aims to enhance accessibility, this trend raises significant concerns regarding appropriate antimicrobial use and patient safety. In this viewpoint, we share our first-hand experience with 2 direct-to-consumer platforms, where we intentionally sought inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions for nonspecific symptoms strongly indicative of a viral upper respiratory infection. Despite the lack of clear necessity, requested antibiotic prescriptions were readily transmitted to our local pharmacy following a simple monetary transaction. The effortless acquisition of patient-selected antibiotics online, devoid of personal interactions or consultations, underscores the urgent imperative for intensified antimicrobial stewardship initiatives led by state and national public health organizations in telehealth settings. By augmenting oversight and regulation, we can ensure the responsible and judicious use of antibiotics, safeguard patient well-being, and preserve the efficacy of these vital medications.

Keywords: antibiotics; antimicrobial stewardship; telehealth.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship*
  • Humans
  • Telemedicine*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents