Fact File: The truth about penicillin allergy

March 20, 2014

19 out of 20 patients who think they are allergic to penicillin are wrong and are costing 63% more

 

The truth about penicillin allergy

It is has been reported that of the 30 million U.S. patients reporting to be penicillin allergic, 28.5 million actually are not. That means up to 19 out of 20 patients who think they are allergic to penicillin are misinformed. Antibiotic costs for patients who report penicillin allergies are as much as 63% higher.

  • Penicillin is an antibiotic in the beta lactam family.

  • 10% of patients report adverse reactions to penicillin including rash, allergic reaction and anaphylaxis.

  • Many patients reporting allergies may not be allergic or their allergy may resolve over time.

  • 80% of patients with a penicillin allergy will no longer be allergic 10 years after their initial reaction if they are not exposed again during this time period.

  • About 90% of patients will test negative to a skin test, indicating they are not allergic to penicillin or that their previous allergy has resolved itself, however, skin testing is not 100% accurate.

 

Sources:

American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology

National Library of Medicine

Mayo Clinic

Wolters Kluwer