A58/14 - Antimicrobial Resistance: a Threat to Global Health Security. Rational Use of Medicines by Prescribers and Patients. Report by the Secretariat, Fifty-eighth World Health Assembly, 2005
(2005; 6 pages)

Abstract
Rational use of medicines requires that patients receive medications appropriate to their clinical needs, in doses that meet their individual requirements, for an adequate period of time, and at the lowest cost to them and their community. Clinically inappropriate and economically inefficient use of medicines is a very serious problem worldwide: it is estimated that more than half of all medicines are inappropriately prescribed, dispensed, or sold. Furthermore, about half of patients who receive medicines fail to take them correctly, and about one third of the world’s population lacks access to essential medicines. This lack of access is compounded by irrational use of medicines, often including: use of more medicines than are clinically necessary (polypharmacy); inappropriate use of antimicrobial agents for non-bacterial infections; inappropriate selection or dosing of antibiotics for bacterial infections; over-use of injections when oral formulations would be more appropriate; failure to prescribe in accordance with clinical guidelines; and inappropriate self-medication, often of prescription-only medicines. The consequences are often serious morbidity and mortality, particularly with childhood infections, such as pneumonia, and chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy and mental disorders. Unnecessary and excessive use of medicines wastes resources, often in the form of out-of-pocket payments by patients, and results in significant harm to patients through poor health outcomes and adverse drug reactions.
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