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Antibiotics use down in S. Korea, highest among OECD members

All Headlines 11:07 June 01, 2017

SEOUL, June 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's consumption of antibiotics has been greatly reduced, a government report showed Thursday, but the country remains the top user among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries.

According to the report by the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, the prescription rate of antibiotics for acute upper respiratory infections came to 40.99 percent in the second half of last year, down 2.53 percent from a year earlier.

The government has been pushing hard to get people to be less dependent on drugs because they can pose serious problems down the line. Excessive use of antibiotics can make it hard to treat people when they become sick since the bacteria can become immune to treatment.

Despite the fall, a separate report showed that the country's antibiotic use was tallied at 31.5 defined daily dose (DDD) per 1,000 people in 2015, meaning 31.5 out of 1,000 people were using antibiotics per day on average.

The prescription of antibiotics, which stood at 26.9 DDD in 2008, reached 30 DDD in 2013 and peaked at 31.7 DDD the following year before a moderate dip in 2015.

South Korea's antibiotic use has consistently ranked high in the OECD, which is a source of concern.

South Korea and Italy topped the frequent drug use list with 31.5 DDD in 2015, trailed by Slovakia with 26.8 DDD, Luxemburg with 26.3 DDD and Israel with 24.9 DDD.

Among OECD countries, Sweden and Estonia prescribed antibiotics the least, with 13.9 DDD and 14.1 DDD, respectively, which is less than half of South Korea's antibiotic use.

shg@yna.co.kr

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