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Sale of over-the-counter antibiotics in pharmacies in Catalonia

Currently, according to regulatory standards in Spain, antibiotics should not be sold in pharmacies without a doctor's prescription.

The aim of a prospective study carried out in Catalonia (Spain) from January to May 2008 was to determine the proportion of pharmacists who sell antibiotics without an official medical prescription. The study used the “simulated patient” method when three different clinical situations were presented by actors. The "patients" consulted pharmacists to complain about "symptoms" of acute pharyngitis, acute bronchitis and urinary tract infections.

197 pharmacies were visited. In case of urinary tract infections, 55 of 69 pharmacists (79.7%) were prescribed antibiotics, which were referred by patients with this clinical symptom, 24 of 69 pharmacists (24.8%) for acute pharyngitis and 10 of 56 pharmacists (16.9%) - with acute bronchitis.

Among pharmacists who sell over-the-counter antibiotics, in 84.3% of cases, pharmacists gave recommendations on the frequency of taking the antibiotic, 68.7% on the duration of treatment and only 16.9% clarified the allergic history before recommending the antibiotic. Of the 108 pharmacists who did not sell antibiotics, only 57 people (52.8%) explained that they could not sell antibiotics without a prescription because of the possible negative health and patient consequences. the likelihood of antibiotic resistance developing and spreading.

Thus, the results of this study have shown that the sale of antibiotics without a prescription, despite official bans, continues to be a major problem in Spain.