News Release

November 22, 2011

CONTACT: Kim Menard

Perelman School of Medicine

This release is available online at

Antibiotics for Acne Linked to Sore Throat, Penn Study Shows

Oral antibiotics used to treat acne are linked to symptoms of sore throat, according to a study by researchers with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, published Online First in the Archives of Dermatology , one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Our studies show that the odds of developing self-reported pharyngitis (sore throat) is more than three times baseline in patients receiving oral antibiotics for acne versus the odds for those who are not receiving oral antibiotics," the authors conclude. "The true clinical importance of these findings needs to be evaluated further by prospective studies."

David J. Margolis, MD, PhD, professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology and colleagues with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted two concurrent studies of students (a cross-sectional study and a longitudinal study) to examine the association between antibiotics used to treat acne and sore throat. The authors also examined the association between oral antibiotics and colonization rates of group A streptococcus, a form of bacteria responsible for most cases of streptococcal illness, as previous research has shown a link between oral antibiotics and higher rates of group a strep.

The authors found that the use of oral antibiotics was strongly associated with a health care evaluation for sore throat. Of students receiving oral antibiotic treatment, 11.3 percent reported having a sore throat. Conversely, sore throats were reported by 3.3 percent of students not receiving oral antibiotics. Additionally, no association with sore throat was noted for those who used a topical antibiotic for acne. The authors found that less than 1 percent of participants were colonized by group A strep, indicating that it was not associated with sore throat in this setting.

Previous studies from Dr. Margolis and colleagues at Penn found that long-term use of antibiotics to treat acne counter-intuitively decreased the prevalence of colonization of another bacteria, S. aureus, by nearly 70 percent, and didn't cause increased resistance to medications.

For more information on these studies, please visit the JAMA/Archives news release on the sore throat study and the S. aureus colonization study.


Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 17 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2013 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2013, Penn Medicine provided $814 million to benefit our community.