The regulation on prescribing and dispensing of antibiotics has a double purpose: to enhance access to antibiotic treatment and to reduce the inappropriate use of drugs. Nevertheless, incentives to dispensing physicians may lead to inefficiencies. We sketch a theoretical model of the market for antibiotic treatment and empirically investigate the impact of self-dispensing on the per capita outpatient antibiotic consumption using data from small geographic areas in Switzerland. We find evidence that a greater proportion of dispensing practices is associated with higher levels of antibiotic use. This suggests that health authorities have a margin to adjust economic incentives on dispensing practices in order to reduce antibiotic misuse.
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