Objectives: To describe the use of antibacterials among outpatients in Norway and to explore patterns of age- and gender-specific use.
Methods: Data were extracted from the Norwegian Prescription Database (NorPD), a complete register of all dispensed prescriptions in Norway, in the period 1 July 2005-30 June 2006. NorPD contains data at an individual level. We extracted patients who had received an antibacterial for systemic use. Results were shown as population prevalences for the total population.
Results: A total of 1.1 million persons had at least one prescription for an antibacterial dispensed. The mean population prevalence of antibacterial use was 24% in total (28% and 19% for women and men, respectively). Population prevalence changed markedly between different age groups and between genders. Children (<5 years) and older elderly people (>or=75 years) were high consumers. Females, in general, used more than males. Use by the different subgroups of antibacterials differed between gender and between different age groups. beta-Lactamase-sensitive penicillins was the most prevalent antibacterial group in all age groups except for women >or=75 years, for whom penicillins with extended spectrum were the most frequently used. Individuals defined as high users (using more than 60 DDDs/year) represented 3% of the population who were using antibacterials. These patients were older and used co-medication more often than other users of antibacterials.
Conclusions: Over 1 year, a quarter of the total population used antibacterials. Patterns of use and types of drugs used differed markedly between genders and between different age groups.