The influence of a sustained multifaceted approach to improve antibiotic prescribing in Slovenia during the past decade: Findings and implications

Jurij Furst, Milan Cižman, Jana Mrak, Damjan Kos, Stephen Campbell, Samuel Coenen, Lars L Gustafsson, Luka Furst, Brian Godman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Rising antibiotic resistance has become an increasing public health problem. There is a well-established correlation between antibiotic consumption and antimicrobial resistance. Consequently, measures to rationalize the prescribing of antibiotics should reduce the resistant strains. Following a 24% increase in antibiotic consumption at the end of the 1990s, multiple activities were designed and introduced by the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia (ZZZS) and other organizations in Slovenia at the end of 1999. These activities reduced the antibiotic consumption by 18.7% by 2002. These measures have continued. Objective: To study changes in antibiotic utilization from 1995 to 2012 alongside the multiple interventions and their consequences, including changes in resistance patterns. Methods: This was a retrospective observational study involving all patients dispensed at least one ZZZS prescription for an antibiotic in Slovenia. Utilization was expressed in defined daily doses per thousand inhabitants per day. Multifaceted interventions were conducted over time involving all key stakeholder groups, that is, the Ministry of Health, ZZZS, physician groups and patients. These included comprehensive communication programs as well as prescribing restrictions for a number of antibiotics and classes. Results: From 1999 to 2012, antibiotic consumption decreased by 2-9% per year, with an overall decrease of 31%. There were also appreciable structural changes. Overall antibiotic utilization and the utilization of 7 out of 10 antibiotics significantly decreased after multiple interventions. The resistance of Streptococcus pneumoniae to penicillin decreased in line with decreased utilization. However, its resistance to macrolides increased from 5.4 to 21% despite halving of its utilization. The resistance of Escherichia coli to fluoroquinolones doubled from 10 to 21% despite utilization decreasing by a third. Expenditures on antibiotics decreased by 53%. Conclusion: Multiple demand-side measures introduced following increased utilization significantly decreased subsequent antibiotic utilization and associated costs. However, there was variable impact on antibiotic resistance. Additional targeted activities are planned to further reduce antibiotic prescribing and resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-289
Number of pages11
JournalExpert Review of Anti-infective Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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