How Does the US Stack up on Antibiotic Prescribing Compared with Europe?

Lauri A. Hicks, DO, captain, US Public Health Service, director, Office of Antibiotic Stewardship, medical director, Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compares antibiotic prescribing data in the United States to data in Europe.

Lauri A. Hicks, DO, captain, US Public Health Service, director, Office of Antibiotic Stewardship, medical director, Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compares antibiotic prescribing data in the United States to data in Europe.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“Interestingly, when we compare [our antibiotic prescribing to that of] most of the European countries together, we end up on the high side. We are definitely above Europe when we look at prescriptions per population, or defined daily doses, which is another metric that is often used to quantify antibiotic use. What we know is that for countries like Sweden, we are way far[ther] ahead, [and] not in a good way.

In 2014, Sweden’s rate of antibiotic prescribing was just over 300 prescriptions per 1000 persons. Interestingly, they feel like they still have a lot of opportunity to improve, and so, they are actually aiming for 250 prescriptions per 1000 persons as a target. There are a lot of other countries across the globe, and we don’t know as much about their antibiotic prescribing rates overall, [but] what we do know is that there are countries, particularly developing countries, where there is access to antibiotics over-the-counter. [Therefore], there is the possibility that in some countries there is a lot more antibiotic use than in the United States.”