Antibiotics could cost lives too!

Speakers at a meet on ‘Global Threat of Antibiotic Resistance’ enlightened students on the dangers pertaining to irrational use of antibiotics and ways to prevent it

Published: 26th June 2013 08:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th June 2013 08:34 AM   |  A+A-


The alarming rate at which antibiotic resistance has become deadly for human life was the unambiguous emphasis at a thought provoking education meet on Global Threat of Antibiotic Resistance – An Indian Intiative held in the city recently.

 The meet was organised by C L Baid Metha College of Pharmacy with the participation of key speakers like Dr Douglas Slain, Associate Professor of Pharmacy and Medicine at the School of Pharmacy, West Virginia University; Dr Abdul Ghafur,  consultant in Infectious Diseases, Clinical Mycology and Infection Control at Apollo Hospital, Chennai; and Dr Lalit Kanodia, coordinator of Apollo Pharmacovigilance Center at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, NewDelhi.

The guests provided insightful information and international perspectives on emerging roles of pharmacists in  addressing global concerns of irrational antibiotic use.

After the introduction of penicillin, an extraordinary period of discovery, exuberant use of resistant bacterial strains have emerged and spread throughout the world, they said.

With reference to antibiotic resistance, the speakers said, India had reached a state where no antibiotic could treat the infectious bacteria.  The overuse and abuse of antibiotics have lead to a state of  ‘Pre-Alexander (Fleming) Era’.

“As of now, there is no antibiotic to kill Pan Drug Resistant bacteria, as it was during the pre-Alexander era when penicillin was not discovered. In the current scenario, nobody knows how many types of antibiotics are needed to cure a disease,” explained Dr Abdul Ghafur.

Currently, anti microbials are the most widely used category of drugs in the world.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported the figure for unwarranted antibiotics prescriptions roughly at 50%.  Contrary to expectations, antibiotic misuse and overuse is common not only in developing countries, but also in the developed world. 

The most revealing information is that the hospitals play a very huge role in spreading antibiotic resistant bacteria although there are many other factors like poor prescription, lack of adherence to prescribed medicines and  a patient’s demand of the medicine, which contribute largely to this grave situation. The optimum use of antibiotics should be the ideal solution. But in order to kill infectious bacteria, doctors these days are prescribing a combination of two or more antibiotics to fight the bacteria. Apparently, the rate of resistance to bacteria has only been increasing, he said.  Dr Douglas Slain described the worldwide scenario of this problem and urged the need for immediate action in a country like India.

The role of pharmacists becomes very crucial at this juncture, said Dr Lalit Kanodia. He explained how a pharmacist could assist a physician in choosing the right amount of antibiotic to the right patient.

A part of the solution could be the implementation of an antibiotic usage policy which would impart strict rules and regulations to the hospitals, which are currently unavailable in India.

The Chennai Declaration is one such solution to Antimicrobials. It was the first ever meeting of medical societies in India on the issue of tackling resistance, with a plan to formulate a road map to tackle the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance from the Indian perspective, said Dr Abdul Gaffur. The panel members included representatives from most medical societies in India, eminent policy makers from both Central and State governments, representatives from WHO, National Accreditation Board of Hospitals, Medical Council of India, Drug Controller General of India and Indian Council of Medical Research and well-known dignitaries in Indian medical field. The intention was to gain wide knowledge and a range of opinions for the road map.

Antibiotic resistance, a global concern, is particularly pressing in India, where the burden of infectious disease is high and healthcare spending is low.  The problem of irrational use of antibiotics is complex involving three elements namely the doctors, pharmacists and the patients.  The education meet was targeted at pharmacists practising in any healthcare set up.

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