High antibiotic prescribing correlated to general prescribing

GP practices prescribing high levels of antibiotics tend also to prescribe more medicines in general, according to a study published in the British Journal of General Practice.

Researchers in Manchester looked at prescribing patterns in 6,517 practices in England and found that levels of prescribing of antibiotics and other medicines were strongly correlated. Those with high levels of prescribing of other medicines prescribed 80 per cent more antibiotics than low-prescribing practices.

The study also found that general prescribing levels were a much stronger driver for antibiotic prescribing than other risk factors, such as deprivation. Prescribing of non-opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines were particularly strong indicators of the level of antibiotic prescribing.

The researchers conclude that measures to optimise antibiotic prescribing and reduce antimicrobial resistance will need to target general prescribing behaviours, in addition to specifically targeting antibiotics.