Barriers and facilitators to adherence to national drug policies on antibiotic prescribing and dispensing in Bangladesh

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Barriers and facilitators to adherence to national drug policies on antibiotic prescribing and dispensing in Bangladesh


JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice
Article typeJournal research article – Clinical research
Publication date – Nov – 2021
Authors – Fosiul Alam Nizame, Dewan Muhammad Shoaib, Emily K. Rousham, Salma Akter, Mohammad Aminul Islam, Afsana Alamgir Khan, Mahbubur Rahman, Leanne Unicomb
KeywordsAntimicrobial Resistance (AMR), Drug policy, Irrational antibiotic use, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), Quack/village doctor, Qualifed physicians
Open access – Yes
SpecialityHealth policy, Other
World region Southern Asia
Country: Bangladesh
Language – English
Submitted to the One Surgery Index on November 29, 2021 at 8:56 am
Abstract:

Background
The National Drug Policy in Bangladesh prohibits the sale and distribution of antibiotics without prescription from a registered physician. Compliance with this policy is poor; prescribing antibiotics by unqualified practitioners is common and over-the-counter dispensing widespread. In Bangladesh, unqualified practitioners such as drug shop operators are a major source of healthcare for the poor and disadvantaged. This paper reports on policy awareness among drug shop operators and their customers and identifies current dispensing practices, barriers and facilitators to policy adherence.

Methods
We conducted a qualitative study in rural and urban Bangladesh from June 2019 to August 2020. This included co-design workshops (n = 4) and in-depth interviews (n = 24) with drug shop operators and customers/household members, key informant interviews (n = 12) with key personnel involved in aspects of the antibiotic supply chain including pharmaceutical company representatives, and model drug shop operators; and a group discussion with stakeholders representing key actors in informal market systems namely: representatives from the government, private sector, not-for-profit sector and membership organizations.

Results
Barriers to policy compliance among drug shop operators included limited knowledge of government drug policies, or the government-led Bangladesh Pharmacy Model Initiative (BPMI), a national guideline piloted to regulate drug sales. Drug shop operators had no clear knowledge of different antibiotic generations, how and for what diseases antibiotics work contributing to inappropriate antibiotic dispensing. Nonetheless, drug shop operators wanted the right to prescribe antibiotics based on having completed related training. Drug shop customers cited poor healthcare facilities and inadequate numbers of attending physician as a barrier to obtaining prescriptions and they described difficulties differentiating between qualified and unqualified providers.

Conclusion
Awareness of the National Drug Policy and the BPMI was limited among urban and rural drug shop operators. Poor antibiotic prescribing practice is additionally hampered by a shortage of qualified physicians; cultural and economic barriers to accessing qualified physicians, and poor implementation of regulations. Increasing qualified physician access and increasing training and certification of drug shop operators could improve the alignment of practices with national policy.

OSI Number – 21373

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