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Defined daily doses (DDD) are the gold standard indicator for quantifying prescriptions. Since 2014, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has also been using the number of packages per 1,000 inhabitants per day (ipd), as a surrogate for prescriptions, to report antibiotic consumption in the community and to perform comparisons between European Union (EU) countries participating in the European Surveillance of Antimicrobial Consumption Network (ESAC-Net). In 2015, consumption was reported to range across Europe from 1.0 to 4.7 packages per 1,000 ipd. Our analysis showed that consumption of antibiotics for systemic use per 1,000 ipd was on average 1.3 times greater in France than in Belgium when considering prescriptions in the numerator, 2.5 times greater when considering packages and 1.2 times greater when considering DDD. As long as the same metrics are used over time, antibiotic consumption data aggregated and disseminated by ECDC are useful for assessing temporal trends at the European level and within individual countries; these data may also be used for benchmarking across EU countries. While DDD - although imperfect - are the most widely accepted metric for this purpose, antibiotic packages do not appear suitable for comparisons between countries and may be misleading.


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