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 Consumer Education: Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics are powerful drugs but they are not the cure for all that ails you. Antibiotics, also known as antimicrobial drugs, are drugs that fight infections caused by bacteria. They are not effective against viral infections like the common cold, most sore throats, and the flu. Today, almost all important bacterial infections in the United States and throughout the world are becoming resistant. Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world's most pressing public health problems. The smart use of antibiotics is the key to controlling the spread of resistance.

To obtain printed copies of any of these materials, please email your request by title to: dpapubs@fda.hhs.gov. You can also call 301-796-3703 or 1-888-INFO-FDA. 

The following links are text documents. You can also view the graphic versions (if available) by going to the "All Graphics and Other Media" page.

  • "Preserve a Treasure: Know When Antibiotics Work." This brochure, from the “Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/FDA campaign, discusses antibiotic resistance in a question-and-answer format. It also provides information on things that can be done to ease your suffering while you are sick with a cold or the flu, and when to call a doctor.
  • En Español "A veces, el remedio es peor que la enfermedad." This brochure, only available in Spanish, was jointly produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FDA as part of CDC’s “Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work” campaign. The brochure explains that antibiotics only cure bacterial infections and not viral infections, such as cold and flu. It also discusses the growing risk of antibiotic resistance and the importance of a doctor's diagnosis before using antibiotics.

  • "Combating Antibiotic Resistance." This Consumer Health Information discusses the appropriate use of antibiotics and the serious health threat of antibiotic resistance.
  • "Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work"  This link will take you off FDA's site to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site. Here you will find information on the public education campaign launched by CDC to address the problem of antimicrobial resistance. FDA has partnered with CDC to promote appropriate antibiotic use. The site provides general information about antibiotic resistance and how to prevent it, as well as educational tools and other resources.

For more information from FDA about antibiotic resistance, please see

Further information about antibiotics and antibiotic resistance from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) can be found at:


All graphics and other media on Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance

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Date created: November 1, 2004; updated May 2, 2008

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