A retrospective drug utilisation study of antimicrobials in a private primary health care group
Katende-Kyenda, Norah Lucky
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The commonest prescribed group of drugs is antimicrobials. Various studies have shown that they are overused globally. Since Primary health care represents the first tier of the health care system, evaluation of antimicrobial use in primary health w e settings is a necessity to ensure rational and cost-effective use of these agents in the treatment of infectious diseases. It has been reported by Hooton and Levy (2001 : 1088) that 20% to 50% of antimicrobials are inappropriately used in developing countries. According to Rebana et al. (1998: 175) the increasing overuse of antimicrobials has resulted in an enormous escalation in the total costs of drugs contributing to 15% to 30 % of the total health budget. Hooton and Levy (2001: 1087) reported in a study that inappropriate use and overuse of antimicrobials are risk factors for the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. There is a high incidence of infectious diseases in developing countries that are due to the rapid spread of resistant strains through over-crowding, poor sanitation and unsafe sexual practices (Liu et al., 1999: 540). The general objective of the study was the analysis and interpretation of the usage and related costs of antimicrobial prescriptions in a private primary health w e setting in South Africa. The study is a non-experimental, quantitative, retrospective drug utilisation review of antimicrobial usage in a private primary health care setting. Data were obtained from the central database of a private primary health care service provider. Data of nine randomly selected clinics, situated in different geographical areas of South Africa, were extracted for the period 1st January to 31st December 2001. The study population was made of the total patient population of patients using antimicrobials during this one year period. Antimicrobial usage was analysed according to: number of patients, age and gender distribution, diagnosis, pharmacological groups. The total number of patients who visited the nine clinics during the year was 83 655 of which 59.50% were females and 40.22% males. In 0.28% of the cases gender was not indicated. Patients in age groups 6 (20-40 years) and 7 (40-60 years) accounted for the highest number of patients (66.31%, n = 54 964). A total of 515 976 medicine items costing R1 716 318.90 were prescribed, of these, 18.69%, (N=96 423) were antimicrobials costing 60.89%, (R1 045 108.00). Of the total number of patients that visited the nine clinics, 65.34% (N=54 663) were prescribed antimicrobials. The total number of diagnoses (140 723) where antimicrobials were prescribed accounted for 68.52% (N46 42 1). The highest number of antimicrobial prescriptions according to pharmacological and age groups were: penicillins followed by sulphonamides and tetracyclines. The diagnoses with the highest number of antimicrobial prescriptions were the respiratory tract infections (viral influenza, acute bronchitis and upper respiratory tract infection) and pelvic inflammatory disease The prescribing of antimicrobials in respiratory tract infections could indicate overuse and inappropriate use of these drugs. Because most of these infections are caused by viruses or other non-bacterial agents, are self limiting. Therefore, the use of antibiotics courses is neither necessary nor appropriate in these conditions. The overuse and inappropriate use of such drugs have an effect on the health of the patients needing cure, and the general budget on health care service. It is recommended that further studies are conducted on antimicrobial prescribing and use.
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