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Antibiotic resistance has been associated with the use of antibiotics. The dispensing of antimicrobials without prescription is a potential source of inappropriate antibiotic use. In our study, antibiotics were requested without prescription from pharmacies in the metropolitan area of Athens in Greece in 2008. Twenty-one collaborators visited 174 pharmacies and asked for either amoxicillin/clavulanate acid or ciprofloxacin without providing a prescription or any other justification for the request. In Greece additional restrictions for fluoroquinolone prescriptions were implemented in 2003 after which a separate specific prescription form needs to be filled in by the prescriber, justifying the choice of any fluoroquinolone. Amoxicillin/clavulanate acid was dispensed in all cases. Furthermore, despite the regulation restricting the prescription of ciprofloxacin, this drug was dispensed by 53% of the pharmacies. It appears that the implementation of measures to restrict the use of certain antibiotics (e.g. ciprofloxacin that was studied in our case) was effective in reducing, although not eliminating, inappropriate dispensing. Overall, dispensing of antimicrobials without prescription is a widespread practice in the studied area and is contributing to the overuse of antibiotics.


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