The first Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation has suggested restricting access to amoxicillin-clauvanate as a way of reducing the high rates of community antimicrobial use.
The Atlas, just released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, shows that 2013–14 more than 30 million PBS prescriptions for antimicrobials were dispensed.
The report noted that many of these were unnecessary because antimicrobials were frequently used to treat infections for which they provide little or no benefit.
Amoxycillin was the most commonly dispensed antimicrobial in Australia, followed by amoxycillin‑clavulanate.
Combined, the two antimicrobials accounted for more than 10 million prescriptions dispensed under the PBS in Australia in 2013–14.
There were wide variations across geographical areas, with rates of amoxycillin‑clavulanate dispensing 16 times more in the area with the highest rate compared with the area with the lowest rate.
While the use of quinolones was low compared with other countries, reflecting their restricted state in Australia, there were still more than 350,000 prescriptions, the report said.
“While the PBS aims to provide Australian residents with affordable and reliable access to a range of medicines, the ready availability of antimicrobials has fuelled unnecessary use,” the report said.
It recommends the PBAC consider curbing unnecessary amoxycillin-clavulanate use by changing its status to Restricted Benefit’ or ‘Authority Required’.
The Government should also develop national benchmarks for best practice prescribing of antimicrobial agents.
“Findings from the atlas should be used to identify variations from these benchmarks and target interventions to reduce inappropriate use,” it said.