Antibacterials dispensed in the community comprise 85%-95% of total human antibacterial consumption

J Clin Pharm Ther. 2018 Feb;43(1):59-64. doi: 10.1111/jcpt.12610. Epub 2017 Aug 18.


What is known and objective: Interventions intended to slow the emergence and spread of antibacterial resistance through enhanced antimicrobial stewardship will be more effective if informed by an accurate knowledge of current patterns of antibacterial consumption. For example, knowledge of the relative magnitude of community antibacterial consumption in relation to hospital antibacterial consumption within each nation or region should help guide decisions about the relative importance of community and hospital antimicrobial stewardship programmes. It is commonly stated that community antibacterial consumption comprises approximately 80% of total national antibacterial consumption. We aimed to determine this proportion across a large range of nations.

Methods: We measured community and hospital antibacterial consumption in New Zealand during 2015, from both reimbursement and purchase data, and compared the New Zealand data with those reported from a large range of other nations during similar time periods.

Results and discussion: Community antibacterial consumption comprised approximately 85%-95% of total antibacterial consumption in all nations for which data were available, and in New Zealand comprised a higher proportion than in any other nation. The proportion of total antibacterial consumption comprised by community consumption was significantly higher in countries with relatively high levels of total antibacterial consumption than in countries with relatively low levels of total antibacterial consumption.

What is new and conclusion: The high proportion of total antibacterial consumption comprised by community antibacterial consumption suggests devoting particular attention to improved community antimicrobial stewardship. These results suggest that improving antimicrobial stewardship in the community may provide greater overall benefits in combating antibacterial resistance than improving antimicrobial stewardship in hospitals.

Keywords: antibacterial consumption; antibacterial resistance; antibiotics; antimicrobial stewardship; primary care.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / drug effects
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • New Zealand


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents