Using Belgian pharmacy dispensing data to assess antibiotic use for children in ambulatory care.
Dillen H., Burvenich R., De Burghgraeve T., Verbakel JY.
BACKGROUND: The desired effect of antibiotics is compromised by the rapid escalation of antimicrobial resistance. Children are particularly at high-risk for unnecessary antibiotic prescribing, which is owing to clinicians' diagnostic uncertainty combined with parents' concerns and expectations. Recent Belgian data on ambulatory antibiotic prescribing practices for children are currently lacking. Therefore, we aim to analyse different aspects of antibiotic prescriptions for children in ambulatory care. METHODS: Pharmacy dispensing data on antibiotics for systematic use referring from 2010 to 2019 were retrieved from Farmanet, a database of pharmaceutical dispensations in community pharmacies. Population data were obtained from the Belgian statistical office (Statbel). Descriptive statistics were performed in Microsoft Excel. The Mann-Kendall test for trend analysis and the seasplot function for seasonality testing were conducted in R. RESULTS: The past decade, paediatric antibiotic use and expenditures have relatively decreased in Belgian ambulatory care with 35.5% and 44.3%, respectively. The highest volumes of antibiotics for children are prescribed by GPs working in Walloon region and rural areas, to younger children, and during winter. The most prescribed class of antibiotics for children are the penicillins and the biggest relative reduction in number of packages is seen for the sulfonamides and trimethoprim and quinolone antibacterials. CONCLUSIONS: Paediatric antibiotic use has decreased in Belgian ambulatory care. Further initiatives are needed to promote prudent antibiotic prescribing in ambulatory care.