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Do you need that antibiotic?

Canadians filled more than 25 million prescriptions for antibiotics in 2015. These drugs are prescribed more frequently in Canada than in many of our peer countries, and twice as often as in the Netherlands, the country that prescribes the fewest antibiotics.

Antibiotics are often overused and misused, and antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, according to the World Health Organization. Antibiotics should not be prescribed to treat common colds and related symptoms (e.g., cough, sore throat), according to Choosing Wisely Canada. 

Here are the daily doses per 1,000 population per day in 2015 for Canada and 8 peer countries, in descending order: 

  • France, 30;
  • New Zealand, 26;
  • Australia, 23;
  • Canada, 21;
  • United Kingdom, 20;
  • Norway, 16;
  • Germany, 14;
  • Sweden, 12;
  • Netherlands, 10.

The peer country average is 21.

For provincial values and more prescribing data, see CIHI’s OECD Interactive Tool.


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