Government plans to curb overuse of antibiotics

NEW Delhi, April 8 (Agencies): The government is getting serious about curbing irrational use of antibiotics. The Union health ministry has formalised a National Policy for Containment of Antibiotic Resistance which is awaiting minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s approval. Under the policy, junior doctors in hospitals will not be able to recommend third and fourth generation antibiotics to patients until the head of department (HoD) sanctions it.
A study will soon be rolled out in three central government hospitals – RML, Safdarjung and Lady Hardinge -- to see the extent of resistance to antibiotics. All patients attending OPDs and admitted in ICUs and CCUs will be continuously monitored to gauge the exact bacteria specific and drug specific resistance. Uniformity in lab testing mechanism, equipments and reagents is also part of the policy. According to the director-general of Indian Council of Medical Research ( ICMR), Dr V M Kotach, a high level committee is presently studying the trends of antibiotic use in the country and will soon come up with periodic guidelines for doctors on what antibiotic regimens are safe and will not lead to resistance.
Meanwhile, the Medical Council of India has decided to give special attention to antibiotic use in the country’s new MBBS curriculum being finalised at present. The drug controller general of India is also putting in place a mechanism that will not only monitor sale of antibiotics in pharmacies but also create new schedules in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act following which several drugs will now be sold only against prescription while several others would be available only for hospital use and not in pharmacies. Dr Katoch said, “Much like what Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, does, we will now extensively study antibiotics and their effects on our body and come out with periodic guidelines for doctors to tell them which antibiotic regimen can be replaced by which combination, that will not cause resistance.”
Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world’s most pressing public health problem. Many bacterial infections are becoming resistant to the most commonly prescribed antibiotic treatments. Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant germs may be left to grow and multiply. Repeated and improper uses of antibiotics are primary causes of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria. MCI governing body member Dr Ranjit Roychoudhury told TOI, “With irrational use of antibiotic becoming a major problem, medical students need to be thorough about its rational use. Therefore, the new curriculum is giving prominent play on proper use of antibiotics.”