Background: Antibiotic use is a major cause of development and spread of resistant bacteria. Sensible antibiotic use should aim at decreasing total antibiotic use and replace broad-spectrum antibiotics with narrow-spectrum ones; pharmaceutical drug statistics are vital in this context.
Material and methods: Data were collected from the wholesaler-based drug statistics (for the period 1974 - 2007) and from the Norwegian Prescription Database (2006). The ATC/DDD methodology is used in the drug statistics. Data are presented as number of users (prevalence), number of dispensed prescriptions, defined daily doses (DDD per 1 000 inhabitants per day) and in Norwegian kroner.
Results and interpretations: Longitudinal trends show a relatively stable and high use of narrow-spectrum antibiotics, even though broad-spectrum antibiotic use is slightly increasing. Antibiotic use varies largely by age and sex. The highest prevalences are seen among small children (0 - 5 years), women in their twenties and in people over 70 years. Over 30 % of people in these groups receive at least one antibiotic per year. The therapy profile differs between the types of prescription issued. Neither the wholesaler statistics nor the Prescription Database contains information on diagnosis, making it difficult to monitor whether the Norwegian primary health service has a rational antibiotic therapy.