Obligatory medical prescription of antibiotics in Russia: Navigating formal and informal health-care infrastructures

A. Kamenshchikova*, M.M. Fedotova, O.S. Fedorova, S.V. Fedosenko, P.F.G. Wolffs, C.J.P.A. Hoebe, K. Horstman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Antimicrobial resistance control programmes often aim to "fix" the behaviour of antibiotic users and prescribers. Such behavioural interventions have been widely criticised in social science literature for being inefficient and too narrow in scope. Drawing on these criticisms, this article analyses how political programmes for fixing antibiotic behaviours were adapted into the practices of health-care professionals and patients in Russia. In 2018, we conducted interviews with medical doctors, pharmacists and patients in a Russian city; focusing on their practices around the policy requirement introduced in 2017 which obligated medical prescriptions of antibiotics. We conceptualised the obligatory medical prescription as a political technique which sought to change practices of self-treatment and over-the-counter sales of medications by establishing doctors as an obligatory passage point to access antibiotics. Our analysis shows that the requirement for medical prescriptions does not fulfil the infrastructural gaps that influence antibiotic practices. By navigating the antibiotic prescriptions, doctors, pharmacists and patients informally compensate for the gaps in the existing infrastructure creating informal networks of antibiotic care parallel to the requirement of obligatory prescriptions. Following these informal practices, we could map the inconsistencies in the current policy approaches to tackle AMR as a behavioural rather than infrastructural problem.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-368
Number of pages16
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number2
Early online date26 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Russia
  • antibiotics
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • behaviour
  • health policy
  • infrastructure
  • russia


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