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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2003 Oct;52(4):675-8. Epub 2003 Sep 1.

Outpatient antibiotic prescriptions from 1992 to 2001 in the Netherlands.

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Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, PO Box 85060, 3508 AB Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Although Dutch outpatient antibiotic prescription rates are low compared with other European countries, continuing to scrutinize trends in outpatient antibiotic use is important in order to identify possible increases in antibiotic use or inappropriate increases in the use of particular classes of antibiotics.


We assessed the volume of Dutch outpatient antibiotic prescriptions from 1992 to 2001 by calculating the mean number of outpatient antibiotic prescriptions (indicating the number of times physicians decide to prescribe an antibiotic agent) per 1000 patients insured by the Dutch Sickness Fund per year, according to subgroups (narrow-spectrum penicillins, broad-spectrum penicillins, tetracyclines, macrolides, sulphonamides and trimethoprim, and quinolones). Data were obtained from the Dutch Drug Information Project/Health Care Insurance Board.


The total volume of outpatient antibiotic prescriptions in 2001 was 394 prescriptions per 1000 patients insured by the Dutch Sickness Fund. Overall, the rates were stable between 1992 and 2001, with small variations across years, but with marked differences in volumes within antibiotic groups across these years: a decrease in prescribing of narrow-spectrum penicillins (-29%), amoxicillin (-23%), tetracycline (-24%), doxycycline (-19%) and trimethoprim and derivatives (-45%) was accompanied by an increase in prescribing of co-amoxiclav (+85%), macrolides (+110%) and quinolones (+86%).


The international trend of a decline in the use of narrow-spectrum and older penicillins and prescribing more broad-spectrum and new chemotherapeutics was shown to exist in a low prescribing country, The Netherlands. Therefore, inappropriate antibiotic prescribing should remain prominent on the research agenda in intervention studies in order to improve the appropriate selection of antibiotic class and to reduce the prescription of antibiotics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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