Published: Saturday 15 January 1994

Prescription of antibiotics in Northern Ireland increased 207 per cent during 1988-91, say researchers at the University of Belfast. Drugs for heart patients and antacids also registered boosts of 126 and 46 per cent respectively. Furthermore, the investigation revealed a three-fold increase in the prescription of oral antibiotics and that the drug to hit stores first usually retained the largest market share (British Medical Journal, Vol 307, No 6909).

The study concludes the increase in such drug prescriptions is greater than can be accounted for by an increase in patients with specific indications for these. This amounts to an indictment of medical practitioners as it suggests the profession has not instituted effective checks to ensure the legitimate promotion of new products does not lead to inappropriate and wasteful use.

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