he arithmetic is disturbing. In India, 1,300 crore antibiotic pills are swallowed by patients annually compared to 1,000 crore pills used in China and 700 crore pills in the USA, according to Public Health Research Organization Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policies Report on Antibiotics 2015.
The trend is worrisome for doctors, as it leads to drug resistance.
The data comes after study in 69 countries by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Against the increase of 36% use worldwide , India has witnessed 66% increase in use of antibiotics during the past 10 years. The main reason for such indiscriminate use of antibiotics may be availability of antibiotics without prescriptions, feel experts.
According to a Lancet (a reputed medical journal) study in 2014, around 58,000 infants in India were estimated to have died from bacterial infections in 2013.
Director, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS), professor Rakesh Kapoor said here on Thursday that the report had warned the world against indiscriminate use of antibiotics.
Professor Kapoor said according to microbiologists, extensive use of antibiotics had increased resistance to bacteria. That was the reason PGI doctors advocated judicious use of antibiotics as overuse may result in resistance to drugs, like in cases of TB, he said.
A number of antibiotics had been rendered useless because of resistance strains in bacteria, he said.
According to professor Rakesh Kapoor, there is no need to prescribe antibiotics in 80% of infections because out of 100 infections, 80 are caused by virus which are wiped out in a limited time frame, while 20% are bacterial infections.
The reason why antibiotics should be used wisely is that bacteria develop resistance very quickly because they are expert in mutation. Secondly, if prescribed injudiciously, antibiotics have the potential to disturb intestinal flora and kill bacteria which are beneficial for human beings, because antibiotics cannot identify them.
Doctors also advise against use of antibiotics in cases of mild cold and cough, or repeated use, because this might increase the danger of diabetes or liver impairment. Overuse of antibiotics can also disturb the body’s metabolism.
Doctors are worried because the annual number of deaths from antibiotic resistant bacteria is around 7 lakh in the world.
Professor Rakesh Kapoor said, “Antibiotic resistance is a global phenomenon. But its capital is India. The availability of antibiotics without prescription is another reason for misuse.”