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Geneva, Switzerland, WHO, Action Programme on Essential Drugs, 1993. ii, 87 p. (WHO/DAP/93.1; DAP Research Series No. 7)The WHO Action Program on Essential Drugs has developed and field tested a core set of drug use indicators capable of describing drug use patterns and prescribing behaviors in a country, region, or individual health facility. These indicators can be used to measure the impact of interventions designed to change prescribing practices, detect performance problems, and compare the performance of providers and institutions. Three categories have been developed: 1) prescribing indicators--average number of drugs per encounter, percentage of drugs prescribed by generic name, percentage of encounters with antibiotic prescribed, percentage of encounters with injection prescribed, and percentage of drugs prescribed from essential drugs list or formulary; 2) patient care indicators--average consultation time, average dispensing time, percentage of drugs actually dispensed, percentage of drugs adequately labelled, and patients' knowledge of correct dosage; and 3) facility indicators--availability of copy of essential drugs list or formulary and availability of key drugs. All data required to measure the core indicators can be derived from medical records or direct observation. Field testing in developing countries such as Nigeria and Tanzania found these measures both feasible to obtain and informative as first-level indicators. Also presented are descriptions of key issues related to study design and sampling, field methods, analysis, and follow up.