Quoting the announcement made by the Union minister of chemicals and fertilizers, Ananth Kumar, at the 57th IPC, held in Mysore last month, that the government is pushing for a separate ministry for pharmaceuticals and medical devices, the Regulatory Affairs Division of the Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA-RAD) has wanted that both the Indian healthcare management and the medicine distribution systems should have a well-planned ‘policy for prescription and use of antibiotics’.
The policy makers of health and pharmaceuticals should consider this seriously as a comprehensive antibiotic policy could tackle the increasing menace of antibiotic resistance. Besides, it will help restrict the use of existing and newly developing antibiotics to the emergency cases.
“The situation is more complicated in developing countries because all of the antibiotics are available from community pharmacies without prescription and proper counseling. There should be a rule mandating that antibiotics should not be dispensed in the absence of pharmacists in community pharmacies. In the same way, the healthcare professionals, not only in India, but all over the world must think of changing the way antibiotics are prescribed. It has been proved that antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays and increased mortality,” said Subhash C Mandal, chairman of the Regulatory Affairs Division of the IPA.
Raising concern over the matter, he said, antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world. New resistance mechanisms emerge and spread globally every day, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases. A growing list of infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhea etc is becoming harder and sometimes impossible to treat as antibiotics become less effective.
In a post-IPC interview with Pharmabiz, he said a policy or an action plan should consist of measures to improve surveillance of antibiotic resistant infections, strengthening infection prevention and control measures. On ethical side, the national health policy should be one to regulate and promote the concept of appropriate use of quality medicines and sharing information on the impact of antibiotic resistance. Ultimately, the policy must recognize and reward the development of new treatment options, vaccines and diagnostics.
The healthcare industry must invest in the development of new antibiotics, vaccines and diagnostics. There are some new antibiotics now in development, but none of them are expected to be effective against the most dangerous forms of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This shows that antibiotic resistance is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. Without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections, organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries such as caesarean sections become much more dangerous.
According to him, In countries where antibiotics can be bought without a prescription, emergence and spread of resistance has become worse. Similarly, in countries without standard treatment guidelines, antibiotics are often over-prescribed by health workers and over-used by the public. Antibiotic resistance is accelerated by its misuse and overuse, as well as poor infection prevention and control methods. Steps must be taken at all levels of society to reduce its impact and limit the spread. From the personal side of the general public, they can take steps for preventing infections by regularly washing hands, practicing good food hygiene, avoiding close contact with sick people and keeping vaccinations up to date·
It is to be understood by everybody that antibiotics should be used only when they are prescribed by certified health professionals. The patient who is advised to take the medications must follow the full course of the prescriptions. Using left-over antibiotics or sharing it with others is also dangerous. Similarly, care should be taken in the case of animals and plants. The animals should be vaccinated rather than giving antibiotics, and in the same way, alternatives should be developed for the use in plants.
From the side of the health workers including pharmacists, care must be taken to prevent infections by keeping hands, instruments and environment clean, and make the patients’ vaccinations up-to-date. If any bacterial infection is suspected, bacterial cultures and testing should be performed without delay. Antibiotics should be prescribed and dispensed only when they are needed, and it should be the right one to take in right dose on right time, said Dr. Mandal.