Adaptation of the WHO Essential Medicines List for national antibiotic stewardship policy in England: Being AWaRe

Emma Budd, Emma Cramp, Mike Sharland, Kieran Hand, Philip Howard, Peter Wilson, Mark Wilcox, Berit Muller-Pebody, Susan Hopkins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Appropriate use of and access to antimicrobials are key priorities of global strategies to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The WHO recently classified key antibiotics into three categories (AWaRe) to improve access (Access), monitor important antibiotics (Watch) and preserve effectiveness of 'last resort' antibiotics (Reserve). This classification was assessed for antibiotic stewardship and quality improvement in English hospitals. Methods: Using an expert elicitation exercise, antibiotics used in England but not included in the WHO AWaRe index were added to an appropriate category following a workshop consensus exercise with national experts. The methodology was tested using national antibiotic prescribing data and presented by primary and secondary care. Results: In 2016, 46/108 antibiotics included within the WHO AWaRe index were routinely used in England and an additional 25 antibiotics also commonly used in England were not included in the WHO AWaRe index. WHO AWaRe-excluded and -included antibiotics were reviewed and reclassified according to the England-adapted AWaRE index with the justification by experts for each addition or alteration. Applying the England-adapted AWaRe index, Access antibiotics accounted for the majority (60.9%) of prescribing, followed by Watch (37.9%) and Reserve (0.8%); 0.4% of antibiotics remained unclassified. There was unexplained 2-fold variation in prescribing between hospitals within each AWaRe category, highlighting the potential for quality improvement. Conclusions: We have adapted the WHO AWaRe index to create a specific index for England. The AWaRe index provides high-level understanding of antibiotic prescribing. Subsequent to this process the England AWaRe index is now embedded into national antibiotic stewardship policy and incentivized quality improvement schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3384-3389
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was performed as part of a Quality Improvement Programme by Public Health England.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Crown copyright.


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