Say no to colistin in farming

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Specialists in the field should also consider repurposing old antibiotics

New Delhi, 22nd December 2018: Recently, samples of raw food lifted across Chennai have tested positive for colistin-resistant bacteria, conforming to a global trend. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are hiding in food and not just meat. This includes everything from tomatoes to apples. Of the samples tested in the study, about 46.4% were found to harbor the highly-resistant bacteria. Eating such contaminated food every day can cause resistant bacteria to invade the human gut. This further will render the host resistant to the powerful antibiotic Colistin in case of an infection.

Colistin is called ‘holy water’ in the practice of medicine. It is often the last resort for patients who are extremely sick. Resistance to colistin is already an issue in clinical practice and there are established food origins in India.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Antibiotics work by targeting specific mechanisms within the microorganisms essential for growth and survival. However, bacteria have certain defence systems that gradually evade these effects and become resistant. Spurious use of antibiotics can speed up this defence system much faster than we can counteract them. The pipeline of antibiotic drug development is fast drying up. There is a need to speed up and support research on new drug molecules and drug targets. The idea of repurposing old antibiotics also merits more attention.”

Medical science still lacks clear knowledge about how resistance to antibiotics develops and evolves. There are several gaps in the understanding of cellular and molecular processes involved. All this makes antibiotic research a very fertile ground and the concerned authorities need to wake up to the absolute need and potential of this field.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Over prescription and unguided over-the-counter usage of antibiotics have reduced efficacy of valuable drugs like carbapenems and colistin. We are fast running out of life-saving options as the medical community at present heavily relies on antibiotics right from treating simple infections to complex surgical procedures. Doctors need to put an end to unnecessary prescriptions, and patients themselves need to check over-the-counter use of antibiotics. The use of antibiotics in poultry and farming also needs to be vigilantly monitored. Time is short, and R&D initiatives need to look for alternatives to salvage this situation.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Practice rational use of drugs antibiotics
  • Use when needed and according to guidelines
  • Avoid broad spectrum antibiotics without appropriate diagnosis
  • Prevent infections with the use of vaccination and by improving basic hygiene including hand hygiene and infection control techniques and sanitation in health care settings as well as in the community

· 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.