A study by researchers from the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) has found that the private sector prescribes high levels of antibiotics in the country.
- Large scale usage of antibiotics is leading to the evolution of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
- These superbugs are becoming difficult to kill and there is a concern that they might lead to a global pandemic.
- India is one of the largest users of antibiotics in the world and the threat of antimicrobial resistance is looming large on the country.
- Amid the concerns, the PHFI conducted the first-ever outpatient antibiotic prescription rates and patterns in the private sector.
- As per the research, the private sector clocked antibiotic prescription rates of 412 per 1000 persons per year.
- This is highest among children in the age group of 0-4 years – 636 per 1000 persons.
- The lowers is the age group of 10-19 years at 280 per 1000 persons.
- In the twelve months of the study between May 2013 and April 2014, it was found that prescription rates were higher in a certain segment in India than in developed countries.
- Prescription of wide-spectrum antibiotics such as cephalosporins and quinolones were 38.2% and 16.3% higher than in the United States (14% and 12.7%) and Greece (32.9% and 0.5%).
- In the country, the prescription rates of beta-lactams-penicillins and cephalosporins for uncomplicated upper respiratory infections are higher than in Europe.
- As per the study, antibiotics consumption increased by 22% in the retail sector between 2012 and 2016.
Not Following Guidelines
- The study found that in the country, antibiotics are commonly prescribed for respiratory infections such as common cold, upper respiratory infections, acute bronchitis and acute cough.
- Clinical guidelines do not allow antibiotic prescriptions in the above cases.
- Of the 519 million antibiotic prescriptions in the country during the study period, 55% were for respiratory infections, 10% for the genitourinary system, 9% for symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical findings. These infections are generally caused by a virus and are limiting in nature.
- The authors of the study blame the irrational use of antibiotics on the tactics used by Pharma companies to sell their products.
There needs to be awareness among the public, doctors and other stakeholders on the usage of antibiotics. Only then can its misuse be prevented.
The easy access to antibiotics and its misuse is leading to antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a global concern and a concern to India.