Given that many Indians regard antibiotics an essential cure for viral infections, a recent study has revealed that Indians use antibiotics excessively.
The researchers said that people took a large amount of antibiotics like Azithromycin before and during the COVID-19 pandemic although the drugs were not cleared by the central drug regulator.
According to the US-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotics are medicines that battle infections caused by bacteria in humans and animals. They either kill the bacteria or make it difficult for them to grow and multiply.
Excessive Antibiotic Use
The study, published in Lancet Regional Health-Southeast Asia, has identified unrestricted over-the-counter sales of most antibiotics which complicate the availability and sale of medicine. Published in the journal on September 1st, the study said that the inappropriate use of antibiotics is a significant driver of antibiotic resistance in India.
The researchers from the Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health, and Public Health Foundation India screened data from PharmaTrac, a private-sector drug sales dataset gathered from a panel of 9,000 stockists across the country.
Their study found that the total figure of defined daily doses (DDD) was 5071 million, or 10.4 DDD every 1,000 people per day.
Dr. Muhammad Shafi, the lead author of the study, emphasized the fact that India consumes a large number of broad-spectrum antibiotics. “Broad-spectrum drugs are meant to be used when we have confirmed multiple bacterial infections, or we have strong suspicion, especially in certain patients, who are at high risk,” he said.
Dr. Shafi also narrowed down the number of situations where it is okay to use broad-spectrum drugs. He laid down the impact of using antibiotics for trivial cases. “Using them for even trivial upper respiratory tract infections, which are viral infections, is a threat to preserving the potential of available antibiotics.”
The study stated that overlap in regulatory powers between national and state-level agencies complicates antibiotics availability, sales, and consumption in the country. Centrally unapproved formulations accounted for 44% of the total defined daily doses.
“As many as 1,098 unique formulations and 10,100 unique products (brands) of antibiotics are sold in India. Out of them, only 46% of brands (19% of formulations) belonged to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO) under the directorate general of health services, ministry of health and family welfare,” said Dr. Shafi.
Dr. Arvind R, head of the department of infectious diseases at Thiruvananthapuram medical college, underlined how the study points out only one aspect of antibiotic misuse. “There are antibiotic residues found in the environment, water sources, milk, fish, meat, and other food items, including in drugs and we are working on measures to minimize the risk of antibiotic resistance,” he said.
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