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The sale of antibiotics to the unit makes it possible to reduce by 10% the volumes delivered (experimentation)

The sale of antibiotics to the unit reduces 10% volumes delivered to patients, while promoting better adherence to treatments, according to the results of an experiment commissioned by the Ministry of Health, AFP.

Conducted from November 2014 to November 2015 in 100 pharmacies in four regions (Ile-de-France, Limousin, Lorraine, Provence-Alpes-Côtes-d'Azur), under the aegis of Inserm, the experimentation concerned 14 antibiotics and their generics.

It had been announced by the previous government in order to save money and combat the misuse of medicines, especially antibiotics, their overconsumption favoring antimicrobial resistance.

Its results, unveiled in September by the American scientific journal PLOS ONE, "in all discretion", as noted on Friday Daily Pharmacist on its website, confirm the economic, environmental and health benefits of dispensing to the unit , according to the authors of the study.

Of the 1.185 patients who agreed to participate in the survey, 907 experienced this type of dispensation (tested in 75 pharmacies), the other 278 having received traditional boxes (in 25 other pharmacies).

In 60% of unit sales cases, initial packaging did not coincide with prescription.

And the distribution of the exact number of tablets required for treatment has reduced 9,9% the number of drugs dispensed and reimbursed by the social security (to 20 on average) compared to the volumes delivered with the traditional boxes (23 on average).

Unit dispensing could reduce self-medication of 1,9%, the authors calculate: among respondents, 17,6% said they wanted to keep their unused antibiotics, 10,7% that they could use them without the consent of a doctor.

A little more than 13% of those polled said they had a tendency to throw away the remaining drugs at the expense of recycling.

Another "unexpected" teaching: the one-to-one dispensing seems to contribute to a better follow-up of the treatments: on 984 respondents, 91,4% of the patients who benefited from this procedure were "observers", against 65,6% the other group.

The generalization of unit sales would have a cost (increased workload for pharmacists, changes imposed on manufacturers), not assessed by the study, acknowledge its authors. But it should allow enough savings to finance offsets to stakeholders, they argue.

If this measure, promised during the campaign by Emmanuel Macron, "interests everyone", it is "in fact quite complex," said Health Minister Agnès Buzyn, last week on BFM TV.

"When you sell the drugs to the unit you lose the traceability of the box and therefore there are risks for the sick," she said, saying she was "in favor" of anything that would "profits" for the Security and avoid "gabegie".

The Ministry of Health, which was contacted by AFP, said it had not "formalized" the results of the experiment, pending the forthcoming parliamentary report on the subject.

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