More antibiotic prescriptions per person are written in wealthy areas of the United States as a result of competition among physicians and retail clinics, a team of researchers has found. Findings from the research are published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Researchers reported that the number of physicians per capita and the number of clinics significantly affect the rate of antibiotic prescribing. The highest per capita rates were observed in the southeastern U.S. and along the West and East coasts. On a more metropolitan scale, higher rates of antibiotic prescribing were seen in Manhattan, southern Miami and Encino, California, among other areas. 

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Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the IMS Health Xponent database showed that the presence of retail medical clinics (eg, chain drug and “super” stores) affected the prescribing rate differently in wealthy vs. poor areas. The presence of clinics was linked to an increase in the prescribing rate of physicians in wealth areas. On the other hand, the presence of retail or urgent care clinics in poorer areas did not create competition among providers to result in higher prescribing behavior by physicians’ offices. The findings suggest that residents in wealthy areas are more able and likely to shop for providers willing to write a prescription vs. residents in poorer areas. 

Findings from the study may help develop a program to educate physicians on how their antibiotic prescribing behavior compares to others on a local to national level. The study authors hope that the study results can also be used to develop solutions to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing behavior.

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