Consumption of oral antibiotic formulations for young children according to the WHO Access, Watch, Reserve (AWaRe) antibiotic groups: an analysis of sales data from 70 middle-income and high-income countries

March 10, 2020Useful Publications

Authors: Hsia Y, Sharland M, Jackson C, Wong ICK, Magrini N, Bielicki JA

Published in: Lancet Infect Dis. 2019; 19(1):67-75

BackgroundThe 2017 WHO Model List of Essential Medicines for Children (EMLc) groups antibiotics as Access, Watch, or Reserve, based on recommendations of their use as first-choice and second-choice empirical treatment for the most common infections. This grouping provides an opportunity to review country-level antibiotic consumption and a potential for stewardship. Therefore, we aimed to review 2015 levels of oral antibiotic consumption by young children globally.

MethodsWe analysed wholesale antibiotic sales in 70 middle-income and high-income countries in 2015. We identified oral antibiotic formulations appropriate for use in young children (defined as child-appropriate formulations [CAFs]) using wholesale data from the IQVIA-Multinational Integrated Data Analysis System database, and we estimated 2015 antibiotic consumption in reference to the 2017 WHO EMLc Access, Watch, Reserve (AWaRe) antibiotic groups. We used three metrics for assessment of intra-country patterns: access percentage, defined as the number of CAF standard units of Access antibiotics divided by the total number of CAF standard units; amoxicillin index, defined as the number of amoxicillin CAF standard units divided by the total number of CAF standard units; and access-to-watch index, defined as the ratio of Access-to-Watch CAF standard units.

Findings:The overall median volume of CAF antibiotic standard units sold in 2015 per country was 74·5 million (IQR 12·4-210·7 million). The median access percentage among the 70 countries was 76·3% (IQR 62·6-84·2). The amoxicillin index was low (median 30·7%, IQR 14·3-47·3). The median access-to-watch index was 6·0 (IQR 3·1-9·8). CAF antibiotic consumption patterns were highly variable between the 70 countries, without a clear difference between high-income and middle-income countries.

Interpretations: Antibiotics in the Access group have a key role in treating young children globally. A simple combination of metrics based on the AWaRe groups can be informative on individual countries’ patterns of antibiotic consumption and stewardship opportunities. These metrics could support countries in the development of programmes to improve access to core Access antibiotics, particularly amoxicillin.