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Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2014 Mar;70(3):331-7. doi: 10.1007/s00228-013-1615-4. Epub 2013 Dec 6.

Antibiotic and anti-asthmatic drug prescriptions in Italy: geographic patterns and socio-economic determinants at the district level.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, Laboratory for Mother and Child Health, IRCCS-Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri", Via Giuseppe La Masa 19, 20156, Milan, Italy,



To analyse the prevalence rate of antibiotics and anti-asthmatics in children and adolescents at the healthcare district level.


Data sources were three regional prescription databases. A total of 175 healthcare districts (3.3 million children/adolescents) participated in the study, providing data for the year 2008. Prevalence rate was standardised by age. The ANOVA test was used to compare prevalence rates of districts in the three regions. The standardised prevalence ratio (SPR) was calculated for each district and a map of the index was elaborated. The correlation among latitude, average annual income per inhabitant, hospitalisation rate, number of paediatricians per 1,000 resident children and prevalence rate was evaluated by district (Spearman's test).


The antibiotic prevalence rate was, on average, 47.9 % (34.0 to 67.9 % between districts), while the anti-asthmatic prevalence was 21.4 % (11.7-35.6 %). The prevalence was higher in districts from the southern regions (antibiotics F = 92.1, anti-asthmatics F = 107.5; p < 0.001). There was a significant correlation between the prevalence of antibiotics and anti-asthmatics (rS = 0.77 p < 0.001), and the prevalence of both was inversely related to latitude (respectively rS = -0.71, -0.72; p < 0.001) and average income (rS = -0.77, -0.73; p < 0.001). Children/adolescents living in districts in the lower quintile of average income were more exposed to antibiotic (OR = 1.75; 1.74-1.77) and anti-asthmatic (OR 1.56, 1.55-1.57) prescriptions.


A lower income at the district level is related to higher antibiotic and anti-asthmatic drug prescription rates. Local socio-economic inequities can concur in prescribing distribution and must be considered when planning educational interventions to reduce over-prescription.

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