UK antibiotic consumption twice that of the Netherlands, WHO report finds

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Antibiotic consumption varies hugely in different parts of the world, suggesting overuse in some cases and limited access in others, a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) has found.

The ‘WHO report on surveillance of antibiotic consumption’ analysed 2015 data on the consumption of systemic antibiotics across 65 countries and areas. It also documented early efforts of the WHO and participating countries to monitor antimicrobial consumption.

The report found that antibiotic consumption varied widely between countries, with overall consumption ranging from 4.4 to 64.4 defined daily doses (DDD) per 1,000 inhabitants per day.

In the UK, antibiotic consumption was 20.5 DDD, more than twice that of the Netherlands, which used 9.8 DDD. However, use in the UK was half that found in Turkey, which used 38.8 DDD.

The highest rate of antibiotic consumption was in Mongolia which had a DDD of 64.4. The lowest consumption was in Burundi where the DDD was 4.4.

In most countries, amoxicillin and amoxicillin/clavulanic acid were the most frequently consumed antibiotics, the report said.

The WHO said that findings from the report confirmed the need to take action to ensure that antibiotics were used appropriately, such as enforcing prescription-only policies and implementing antimicrobial stewardship programmes.

It recommended that countries without national surveillance of antimicrobial consumption should explore means to establish such a system; that countries with recently implemented national surveillance should expand data coverage where applicable; and that countries with mature surveillance systems should explore the possibility of linking their data to other surveillance programmes and share their experiences with other countries.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, November 2018;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205732