Non-prescribed antibiotic dispensing practices for symptoms of urinary tract infection in community pharmacies and accredited drug dispensing outlets in Tanzania. A simulated clients approach

Pendo M. Ndaki Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences Martha F. Mushi Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences Joseph R. Mwanga (  ) Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences Eveline T. Konje Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences Stella Mugassa Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences Msilikale W. Manyiri Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences Stanley M. Mwita Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences Nyanda E. Ntinginya National Institute for Medical Research, Mbeya Medical Research Centre Blandina T. Mmbaga Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College Katherine Keenan University of St Andrews Wilber Sabiiti University of St Andrews Mike Kesby University of St Andrews Alison Sandeman University of St Andrews Fernando B. -Paez University of St Andrews Matthew T.G. Holden
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Antibiotic dispensing without prescription is a major determinant of the emergence of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) which has impact on population health and cost of healthcare delivery. This study used simulated clients describing UTI like symptoms to explore compliance with regulation, variations in dispensing practices and drug recommendation, and quality of seller-client interaction on the basis of the gender of the client and the type of drug outlets in three regions in Tanzania.


A total of 672 Accredited Drug Dispensing Outlets (ADDOs) and community pharmacies were visited by mystery clients (MCs). The study was conducted in three regions of Tanzania namely Kilimanjaro (180, 26.79%), Mbeya (169, 25.15%) and Mwanza (323, 48.07%) in March - May 2020. During data collection, information was captured using epicollect5 software before being analyzed using Stata version 13.


Overall, 89.43% (CI: 86.87%-91.55%) of drug sellers recommended antibiotics to clients who described UTI like symptoms but held no prescription and 58.93% were willing to sell less than the minimum recommended course. Female clients were more likely than male to be asked if they were taking other medications (27.2% vs 9.8%), or had seen a doctor (27.8% vs 14.7%), and more likely to be advised to consult a doctor (21.6% vs 9.0%); pharmacies addressed these issues more often than ADDOs (17.7% vs 13.2%, 23.9% vs 16.6%, 17.7 vs 10.9% respectively). Sellers recommended 32 different drugs to treat the same set of symptoms, only 7 appear in the Tanzanian Standard Treatment Guidelines as recommended for UTI and 30% were 2nd and 3rd line drugs. ADDO sellers recommended 31 drug types (including 2nd and 3rd line) but had permission to stock only 3 (1st line) drugs. The most commonly suggested antibiotics were Azithromycin (35.4%) and ciprofloxacin (20.5%). Azithromycin was suggested more often in pharmacies (40.8%) than in ADDOs (34.4%) and more often to male clients (36.0%) than female (33.1%).


These findings support the need for urgent action to ensure existing regulations are adhered to and to promote the continuing professional development of drug sellers at all outlet levels to ensure compliance with regulation, high quality service and better antibiotic stewardship.