Antimicrobial use (AMU) in the Canadian community sector

The emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an increasing concern for global health and is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top ten public health threats. The unnecessary use and overuse of antimicrobials is a primary driver of the emergence of antibiotic resistant organisms (AROs).

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Canadians aged 80+

Per capita, Canadians aged 80 years or more received the highest number of prescriptions in 2022.

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21+ Million prescriptions

21.4 million antimicrobial prescriptions were dispensed by retail pharmacies in 2022.

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AWaRe Access

In 2022, 75% of antibiotics consumed in the community were WHO's AWaRe Access, surpassing WHO's benchmark.

This interactive tool demonstrates the quantity of antimicrobial doses dispensed by Canadian retail pharmacies for a rolling 72 months. It provides a summary of antimicrobial consumption by antimicrobial class or AWaRe category using the last 12 months of data. The AWaRe categories are Access, Watch and Reserve. The WHO created this classification system to account for the impact of different antibiotics on antimicrobial resistance and to emphasize the importance of their appropriate use. These quantities are expressed as defined daily doses (DDDs) per 1,000 census inhabitants or prescriptions per 1,000 census inhabitants. A DDD refers to the assumed average maintenance dose per day in adults.

Heatmap of antimicrobial consumption by (Updated: April 1, 2023)

How to use the heatmap
  • Hovering over a cell reveals the number of DDDs or prescriptions per 1,000 inhabitants for the selected antimicrobial category and corresponding province or region. This will also bring up a figure below visualizing antimicrobial consumption for the last 72 months for the same selection.
  • Clicking on a cell will lock the selected value and corresponding visualization allowing for quick comparisons. To unlock the heatmap, simply click the previously selected cell.

per 1,000 inhabitants

*All data points in the line graphs contain 12 months worth of community consumption data divided by the regional population for that year. A point in Q1 2022 contains consumption data from April 2021 – March 2022, a point from Q2 2021 contains consumption data from July 2020 – June 2021, etc.

Antimicrobial consumption in Canada: text description
Antimicrobial Class Year
Antimicrobial molecules included in each class
Antimicrobial class AWaRe Category Active ingredients


Methods can be found in the most recent Canadian Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (CARSS) report. CARSS is Canada’s national system for reporting on AMR and antimicrobial use (AMU). CARSS synthesizes and integrates epidemiological and laboratory information from Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) surveillance programs across the human and agricultural sectors to provide high quality national data on AMR and AMU. Information on the consumption of antimicrobials in hospital inpatients can be found on The Canadian Nosocomial Infection Surveillance Program (CNISP) page.


The statements, findings, conclusions, views, and opinions expressed in this report are based in part on data obtained under license from IQVIA Solutions Canada Inc. concerning the following information service(s): Compuscript, from October, 2017 to December, 2022. All Rights Reserved. The statements, findings, conclusions, views, and opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of IQVIA Inc. or any of its affiliated or subsidiary entities.

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