The overuse of antibiotics has been identified as a major challenge in regard to the rational prescription of medicines in low and middle income countries. Extensive studies on the effectiveness of persuasive interventions, such as guidelines have been undertaken. There is a dearth of research pertaining to the effects of restrictive interventions. This study aimed to evaluate the impacts of prescription restrictions in relation to types and administration routes of antibiotics on antibiotic procurement in primary care settings in China.
Data were drawn from the monthly procurement records of medicines for primary care institutions in Hubei province over a 31-month period from May 2011 to November 2013. We analyzed the monthly procurement volume and costs of antibiotics. Interrupted time series analyses with a difference-in-difference approach were performed to evaluate the effect of the restrictive intervention (started in August 2012) on antibiotic procurement in comparison with those for cardiovascular conditions. Sensitivity tests were performed by replacing outliers using a simple linear interpolation technique.
Over the entire study period, antibiotics accounted for 33.65% of the total costs of medicines procured for primary care institutions: mostly non-restricted antibiotics (86.03%) and antibiotics administered through parenteral routes (79.59%). On average, 17.14 million defined daily doses (DDDs) of antibiotics were procured per month, with the majority (93.09%) for non-restricted antibiotics and over half (52.38%) for parenteral administered antibiotics. The restrictive intervention was associated with a decline in the secular trend of costs for non-restricted oral antibiotics (− 0.36 million Yuan per month, p = 0.029), and for parenteral administered restricted antibiotics (− 0.28 million Yuan per month, p = 0.019), as well as a decline in the secular trend of procurement volume for parenteral administered non-restricted antibiotics (− 0.038 million DDDs per month, p = 0.05).
Restrictive interventions are effective in reducing the procurement of antibiotics. However, the effect size is relatively small and antibiotic consumptions remain high, especially parenteral administered antibiotics.