Antimicrobial medicines dispensing from 2013–14 to 2017–18

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most significant global challenges to human health. This report examines antimicrobial medicines dispensing in the community across Australia, according to where people live. It reports trends by state and territory, Primary Health Network (PHN) and small geographical area.

It builds on the findings of the Third Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation, and complements those of the AURA 2019 report.

Why is this important?

Australia has a higher rate of antimicrobial medicines use than many other OECD countries.[1] Monitoring use and reducing unnecessary antibiotic prescribing is a key strategy for preventing and containing antimicrobial resistance (AMR). AMR reduces the range of antimicrobial medicines available to treat infections and increases the morbidity and mortality of multi-drug resistant infections. 

What we found

Data from 2017–18 confirm the downward trend in antimicrobial medicines dispensing seen from 2013-14 in the Australian community. However, use remains higher than in comparable OECD countries: 22.7 defined daily doses of antimicrobial medicines were dispensed for every 1,000 Australians per day in 2017–18. This is more than double the equivalent figure in the Netherlands and Sweden: 8.9 and 10.8, respectively [2]. 

What has changed in the past five years?

Strategies for Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) including education in primary care, the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards for AMS [5] and NPS MedicineWise education [6,7] may have contributed to the downward trends through increased awareness of appropriate prescribing.

What more can be done?

To reduce antimicrobial resistance and optimise rates of antimicrobial use in Australia to those of benchmark countries, educational efforts and direct audit and feedback need to be considered, continued or increased. Experience in other countries has shown that educational efforts must be sustained over years to ensure lasting improvements in prescribing.

Read more below.

Interactive graphs and data

Data show variation in rates by geographic location of patient residence. To use the interactive maps and graphs:

  • Hover or click on maps and graphs for details of data points
  • Use the dropdown boxes at the bottom of graphs to select states and territories, SA3s or PHNs
     

Learn more about using the interactive Atlas

National, state and territory and local trends

National overview

Summary table

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State and territory rates across the years

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Consistently high or low local areas

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National overview

Summary table

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State and territory rates across the years

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Consistently high or low local areas

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Primary Health Network trends

PHN overview

Summary table

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PHN table

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Consistently high or low local areas by PHN

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PHN overview

Summary table

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PHN table

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Consistently high or low local areas by PHN

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Patient rate and DDD rate

Patient rate

Volume (defined daily dose)

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Patient rate

Volume (defined daily dose)

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