A glimmer of hope amid pronouncements that we are on a path to a “post-antibiotic era:” in some countries, antibiotic prescribing is actually going down. We’ve known since the advent of antibiotics that exposure to the drugs drives the development of resistance in bacteria. We also know that many antibiotic prescriptions are inappropriate – research from Extending the Cure estimates that each year in the United States there are up to one million antibiotic prescriptions that offer no possible benefit to the patient. In light of this knowledge, local, regional, and national public health officials have launched campaigns to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing and encourage judicious antibiotic use. This week’s visualization looks at per capita antibiotic use levels over time in the Canada, the United States, and France – three countries that have experimented with national antibiotic stewardship campaigns. Download the graphic in the Tools section of the website.
This graphic shows per capita antibiotic use levels in Canada, the United States, and France, 2000 – 2010. Levels in all three countries, measured in standard units and adjusted for population growth, decreased over the time period. Studies have observed the effects of national educational campaigns in Canada and France on promoting antibiotic stewardship in the late 1990s through the first decade of the 21st century. In 1995, the U.S. CDC launched the “National Campaign for Appropriate Antibiotic Use in the Community,” later renamed “Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work,” to educate on the dangers of antibiotic overuse.