Over-the-counter sales of antibiotics from community pharmacies in Abu Dhabi
Objectives The aim of this study is to investigate over-the-counter sale of antibiotics from community pharmacies in Abu Dhabi city, focusing on the extent, demographic and socioeconomic determinants of this practice. Setting The study was conducted in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, and involved 17 randomly selected private pharmacies. Method A cross-sectional design using structured observations of 30 clients purchasing antibiotics from a pharmacy staff (either a pharmacist or pharmacy assistant) at each selected pharmacy. A total of 510 interactions were observed. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS. Main outcome measure The extent and types of antibiotics sold over-the-counter in Abu Dhabi city as observed in the selected sample of community pharmacies, and the demographic and socioeconomic factors that contributed to this practice. Results Sixty eight percent (68.4%) of the observed antibiotic sales were sold over-the-counter without prescriptions. Injection antibiotics constituted 2.2% of the antibiotics sold, 45.5% of which were sold over-the-counter. Combination of penicillins including β-lactamase inhibitors (34.0%), penicillins with extended spectrum (22.3%) and second generation cephalosporins (11.2%) were the mostly commonly sold antibiotic groups. Respiratory conditions (63.1%) were the most frequent reason for purchasing antibiotics. Over-the-counter sales of antibiotics were related to client ethnicity and age, gender of pharmacy staff and health complaint. Conclusion Our study revealed high sales of over-the-counter antibiotics, despite this being illegal. The ineffectiveness of antibiotics in treating respiratory conditions of viral origin and effects of such practice on the emergence of bacterial resistance necessitates prompt action.