A new study has tracked the growing impact of non-prescription antibiotics from community pharmacies worldwide, highlighting the urgent need for better enforcement laws to help stem resistance to the medications, according to the latest Australia-linked research.
“We searched global databases for studies published from 2000 to 2017 which reported on the frequency of non-prescription sale and supply of antibiotics in community pharmacies worldwide,” Queensland University of Technology researcher, Emmanuel Adewuyi, said in a statement on Thursday.
“Studies from 24 countries were analysed and to our alarm we discovered that antibiotics are frequently supplied without prescription in many countries.
“This overuse of antibiotics could facilitate the development and spread of antibiotic resistance.”
Antibiotic resistance accounts for more than two million infections and 23,000 deaths annually in the U.S., and around 25,000 deaths in Europe each year, said Mr Adewuyi, who worked with Britain, U.S. and Nigerian researchers on the findings that were published in The Journal of Infection medical publication.
Economic growth and better access contributed to the global increase in supply of the antimicrobial drugs, with the majority of the overall rise in consumption occurring in places including Brazil, India and South Africa, the researchers found.
Mr Adewuyi said most of the antibiotics supplied without prescription were used to treat ailments that were acute and self-limited, such as upper respiratory tract infections and gastroenteritis.
“Considering most countries have laws prohibiting over-the-counter sales of antibiotics, there is a need to ensure such laws are more strictly enforced where appropriate,” he said.
The supply of antibiotics without a prescription in community pharmacies is a “global problem”, said the study’s lead author Asa Auta, from Britain’s University of Central Lancashire.
“Such practice not only predisposes patients to inappropriate drug and dose choices, it portends great risks for the development and spread of resistant organisms, masking of diagnosis as well as delayed hospital admissions.”