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Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2012 Sep;21(9):945-52. doi: 10.1002/pds.2346. Epub 2012 Jan 9.

Antibiotic prescribing trends in a paediatric sub-population in Ireland.

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HRB Centre for Primary Care Research, Department of General Practice, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland.



Little is known about antibiotic prescribing in Irish children. This study aims to examine antibiotic prescribing patterns in Irish children and associated costs and to compare this with European findings.


A retrospective analysis of the Irish Health Services Executive (HSE) pharmacy claims database 2004-2009 for the General Medical Services (GMS) scheme for dispensed medications. This represents 28% of Irish children but over-represents lower socio-economic groups. Overall prescribing rates were reported over time (2004-2009), age (0-4, 5-11, 12-15 years) and gender. Statistical comparison is made using negative binomial regression. Overall prescribing rates for the most commonly prescribed drugs were calculated. Associated cost of prescribing also was calculated. European prescribing data were retrieved from the literature.


Rates remained stable from 2004 (631/1000 GMS population; 95%CI 628-634) to 2009 (621/1000; 95%CI 618-624). An interaction effect emerged between gender and age. Rates were generally higher for girls, except for the boys aged 0-4 years. The preferred choice of agents changed across years, with co-amoxiclav becoming the most prescribed drug in 2009 (308/1000; 95%CI 306-310). The total cost of antibiotics increased from €4.4 million in 2004 to €6.0 million in 2009. Higher overall rates of antibiotic prescribing emerged compared with available European data. Differences were observed between prescribing of some first-line and second-line drugs.


Age and gender trends are consistent with international literature. However, Ireland has higher overall prescribing rates relative to some European countries. This suggests that a quality improvement in prescribing intervention is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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