Pharmacists’ practices for non-prescribed antibiotic dispensing in Mozambique

Keywords: Anti-Bacterial Agents, Self Medication, Prescriptions, Pharmacists, Professional Practice, Pharmacies, Drug Resistance, Bacterial, Motivation, Law Enforcement, Public Health, Qualitative Research, Mozambique


Background: Antibiotics are the most frequently used medicines worldwide with most of the countries defining these as prescription-only medicines. Though, dispensing non-prescribed antibiotics represent one of the chief causal factors to the irrational use of antibiotics that paves the way to the development of antimicrobial resistance.

Objective: We aimed at describing the practices and the enablers for non-prescribed antibiotic dispensing in Maputo city, Mozambique.

Methods: A qualitative study was conducted, between October 2018 and March 2019, in nine private pharmacies randomly selected across Maputo city. Eighteen pharmacists were contacted and seventeen enrolled through snowball sampling. In-depth interviews were conducted, audiotaped, and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were coded and analysed though thematic analysis with guidelines from Braun and Clark. The Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Studies (COREQ) checklist by (Tong, 2007) was performed.

Results: Out of seventeen, fifteen pharmacists admitted non-prescribed dispensing of antibiotics. Common antibiotic dispensing practices included; dispensing without prescription, without asking for a brief clinical history of patients, without clear explanation of the appropriate way of administering, without advising on the side effects. Reasons for non-prescribed antibiotic dispensing are linked to patients’ behaviour of demanding for non-prescribed antibiotics, to the patients expectations and beliefs on the healing power of antibiotics, to the physicians’ prescribing practices. Other reasons included the pressure for profits from the pharmacy owners, the fragile law enforcement, and absence of accountability mechanisms.

Conclusions: The practices of non-prescribed antibiotic dispensing characterize the ‘daily life’ of the pharmacists. On the one hand, the patient’s demand for antibiotics without valid prescriptions, and pharmacist’s wish to assist based on their role in the pharmacy, the pressure for profits and on the understanding of the larger forces driving the practices of self-medication with antibiotics - rock. On the other hand, pharmacists are aware of the legal status of antibiotics and the public health consequences of their inappropriate dispensing practices and their professional and ethical responsibility for upholding the law - hard place. Highlighting the role of pharmacists and their skills as health promotion professionals is needed to optimizing antibiotic dispensing and better conservancy in Mozambique.


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How to Cite
Torres NF, Solomon VP, Middleton LE. Pharmacists’ practices for non-prescribed antibiotic dispensing in Mozambique. Pharm Pract (Granada) [Internet]. 2020Aug.18 [cited 2021Jul.27];18(3):1965. Available from:
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