CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia ranks second among the states in residents' use of antibiotics and had the smallest decrease among the states during an 11-year span, according to a study released Tuesday.
Figures compiled by the nonprofit Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy show there were 1,178 prescriptions filled for every 1,000 West Virginia residents in 2010.
In 1999, West Virginia ranked fifth when the rate was 1,191 prescriptions.
The study found Kentucky led the nation with 1,197 antibiotic prescriptions per 1,000 residents. Other states with the highest antibiotic use were Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, while residents of Alaska and Hawaii had rates that were less than half those states.
Nationally, antibiotic prescriptions fell 17 percent between 1999 and 2010, when there were 801 prescriptions filled for every 1,000 residents.
Louisiana was the only state that saw an increase in filled antibiotic prescriptions. West Virginia's 1 percent drop was the smallest. Nevada, Florida and New Hampshire saw the biggest percentage declines. Tennessee, which led the nation in 1999 at 1,324 antibiotic prescriptions per 1,000 residents, saw a 12 percent drop.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared this week as "Get Smart About Antibiotics Week."
As part of the study, researchers also found that available drug classes used to treat urinary tract infections are losing their overall effectiveness. According to the CDC, they are the second-most common type of infection.
"These findings are especially disturbing because there are few new antibiotics to replace the ones that are becoming less effective," said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamic's Extending the Cure project, which addresses antibiotic resistance. "New drug development needs to target the types of drug-resistant bacteria that cause these infections."
The project has released details of the research on its website that tracks changes in antibiotic drug use and resistance.