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Antimicrobial resistance is recognised as a growing problem that seriously threatens public health and requires prompt action. Concerns have therefore been raised about the potential harmful effects of making antibiotics available without prescription. Because of the very serious concerns regarding further spread of resistance, the over-the-counter (OTC) availability of antibiotics was analysed here. Topical and systemic OTC antibiotics and their indications were determined across 26 European Union (EU) countries and Norway by means of a European survey. We identified a total of 48 OTC products containing 20 different single antibiotics and three antibiotic combinations as active substances, used mainly as topical preparations in short treatment courses. Given the relevance of these medicines and the increasing risk of antimicrobial resistance, it is important to limit the availability of OTC antibiotics and to monitor their use.


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