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Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2004 Mar;60(1):23-8. Epub 2003 Dec 19.

Respiratory tract infections in general practice: considerable differences in prescribing habits between general practitioners in Denmark and Spain.

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  • 1Research Unit of General Practice, University of Southern Denmark, Winsløwsparken 19, 3rd floor, 5000 Odense C, Denmark. lbjerrum@health.sdu.dk



The prevalence of antibiotic resistance in a country reflects the local consumption of antibiotics. The majority of antibiotics are prescribed in general practice and most prescriptions are attributable to treatment of respiratory tract infections (RTIs). The aim of this study was to compare general practitioners' (GPs') prescribing of antibiotics for respiratory tract infections in a country with a high prevalence of antibiotic resistance (Spain) with a country with a low prevalence of antibiotic resistance (Denmark).


A group of GPs in Copenhagen and Barcelona registered all contacts ( n=2833) with patients with RTIs during a 3-week period between 1 November 2001 and 31 January 2002.


Overall, Spanish GPs treated a higher proportion of patients than Danish GPs. After adjusting for unequal distribution of age and sex, we found that Spanish GPs prescribed significantly more antibiotics to patients with focus of infection in tonsils and bronchi/lungs. Narrow-spectrum penicillin was the most used antibiotic in Denmark, representing 58% of all prescriptions issued, followed by macrolide and broad-spectrum penicillin. In Spain, prescriptions were distributed among a great number of compounds, with broad-spectrum penicillins and combinations of amoxicillin plus beta-lactamase inhibitors most frequently used.


The substantial difference in the way GPs manage respiratory tract infections in Denmark and Spain cannot be explained by different patterns of RTIs in general practice. The discrepancies indicate variations in national recommendations, different treatment traditions or different impact of pharmaceutical marketing.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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