Red line in a prescription indicates antibiotic; should be consumed under supervision

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Antibiotic misuse is becoming rampant in India and can prove detrimental to health

New Delhi, 13 October 2018: A recent study has indicated that clinicians prescribe antibiotics without an infection-related diagnosis nearly half of the time. About one in five prescriptions was provided without an in-person visit. Research also indicates that antibiotics are often prescribed for certain symptoms (such as a sore throat or cough) when they should not be. Most of these of illnesses are caused by viruses and therefore do not benefit from antibiotics, which only treat bacterial infections.

Misuse and overuse of antibiotics have made once easily treatable bacterial infections harder and often impossible to cure. The reason is that bacteria evolve rapidly to evade antibiotics, leading to drug resistance.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “When resistance occurs, the antibiotic loses its ability to control bacterial growth effectively even in therapeutic concentrations. At the rate which misuse continues in India, this phenomenon can turn back the clock on decades of progress in modern medicine and return us to a pre-antibiotic era. Use of third-generation antibiotics has risen. For the last many years, no research has been on for the discovery of newer classes of drugs. Some bacteria that have developed resistance include Salmonella, E. coli, Yersinia pestis, Klebsiella, Shigella,and Klebsiella. Another fact that people should be aware of is that when prescribed, one should ensure that the full course of an antibiotic is completed without skipping a dose.”

Other contributing factors to antibiotic resistance are unsupervised dumping of pharmaceutical waste, excessive use of last resort antibiotics, and overuse of antibiotics on farm animals. Common infections such as those of the urinary, gastrointestinal, and respiratory tract have become difficult to treat owing to growing resistance in bacteria causing them.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “As part of the 25th MTNL Perfect Health Mela 2018, we at the Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI), have taken up a campaign against misuse of antibiotics. This is in association with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). As part of the campaign, awareness will be raised on the fact that antibiotics are scheduled and toxic drugs that must be taken only on prescription by a health specialist.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Doctors should run a drug interaction programme for every new medication prescribedand alert the provider to serious interactions.
  • There is no way anyone can remember all the drug interactions.
  • EKGs should be run before prescribing many common antibiotics
  • Don’t take antibiotics unless you really need them. They are not indicated for colds or viral infections or bronchitis, where they are often misused and squandered.
  • Now you are not just fueling antibiotic resistance with unnecessary antibiotics, but you are risking death.
  • Remember penicillin and chloramphenicol have less side effects but still we do not take them unless a must then why self-prescribe more toxic latest antibiotics.
  • It is important to focus on preventing infections. For instance, be at least 3-feet away from someone who has a cough or cold.
  • Bacterial infections can be avoided by following proper handwashing techniques.
  • One should be careful in a healthcare setting as much as in a hospital. In a clinic with multiple patients, beware of the door knobs and bathroom seats. All these are potential sources of infection. Women should wipe off the toilet seat before use as it may carry a dry infection.
  • Doctors should ensure that antibiotics are written in bold or underlined with a red pen when prescriptions are given.
  • Farmers and food industry must stop using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance.
  • Always look for a Red Line mark in the medicine you buy, the red alert indicates that it is an antibiotic