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Antibiotic resistance on the rise in India

Apr 04, 2013 08:50 AM IST India India

New Delhi: All antibiotics, tuberculosis drugs and other habit-forming medicines may soon have a label, warning users against over the counter medication, according to the latest draft notification by the Health Ministry.

According to Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), India records 70 thousand new multi-drug resistant tuberculosis cases every year. India has already switched to using the second line drug Artemisinin for Malaria widely and nearly 5 per cent of all HIV/AIDS cases are drug resistant according to the WHO.

There is also the larger burden of drug resistant bacterial infections, especially hospital infections. Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) Director Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan said, "The fact is that we are soon approaching a stage where you as an individual will know someone who died of a drug resistant infection. Ten years ago we didn't really have much issues with carbo penum resistance in gram negatives and now we have in this class of bacteria called entrobacteria we have very common carbo penum resistance."

Despite that, the government's proposed national antibiotic policy to curb drug resistance was shelved in October 2011. With that, measures like banning over-the-counter sale of third generation antibiotics and colour coding the antibiotics, were also shelved.

Dr Laxminarayan added, "What we need is a policy that recognizes that some antibiotics should be provided easily to people OTC because not everyone has an access to a doctor. However more expensive antibiotics which are more powerful like carbo penums which are sold freely in Delhi those need to be restricted. If we focus only on the class I and class II metros, this is where much of the over use is happening, we don't need to go to rural areas to deal with our antibiotic problem."

Second line drugs for HIV/AIDS are six times costlier and second line drugs for tuberculosis are a 100 times costlier than their first line drugs.