Amoxicillin prescription rates low for children's infections, study finds

Researchers at the St. George's University of London ran a global comparison of antibiotic use and found few physicians prescribe amoxicillin to treat common childhood infections and instead use antibiotics for specific infections, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Here are four things to know:

1. For the study, researcher analyzed whole antibiotic sales in 70 high and middle income countries in 2015. Researchers identified antibiotics used by young children by using the IQVIA-Multinational Integrated Data Analysis System database. Researchers estimated antibiotic use by using the 2017 WHO EMLc Access, Watch, Reserve antibiotic groups.

2. In 2017, the World Health organization divided antibiotics into three categories: access, watch and research. These categories help ensure physicians prescribe the right antibiotics for the right infections.

3. Researchers found the watch category, or antibiotics  used for a specific infection, made up 20 percent of the total antibiotic consumption. The watch antibiotic category holds a higher risk of developing antibiotic resistance.

4. The report indicated use of access antibiotics on average made up 76 percent of child-appropriate antibiotic prescriptions in all countries. Amoxicillin use was low, making up 31 percent. The WHO said amoxicillin, an access antibiotic, should be used first, before other antibiotic treatments.

"This is the first attempt at developing simple metrics of global child community antibiotic use based on the WHO’s grouping. The data can be used by countries to assess their antibiotic use patterns for young children. Countries with low access percentages can identify opportunities for greater use of these antibiotics. Unnecessary use of watch antibiotics is more clearly identifiable," said Julia Bielicki, MD, senior lecturer at St. George's University of London.

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