Brazil restricts antibiotics in bid to stop superbugs

Brazil restricts antibiotics in bid to stop superbugs

The latest rules from the National Health Alert Agency, or Anvisa, include a requirement that anyone wanting to buy antibiotics have a doctor's prescription.

Pharmacies are also instructed to retain the original of the prescription, while physicians have been given updated guidelines for when to prescribe antibiotics.

Brazil's health ministry says the excessive and often unjustified use of antibiotics has been a factor in the development of highly resistant strains of bacteria.

Mandating that pharmacies retain the originals of prescriptions will reduce "self-medication and the abusive and indiscriminate use of antibiotics", Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao said Thursday.

Anvisa's experts, called upon last week for suggestions on combating new bugs resistant to antibiotics, earlier issued an order that all doctors and nurses wash their hands with alcohol between patients.

The focus of Anvisa's concern is the bacteria known as Klebisiella Pneumoniae Carbapenemase, KPC, which has caused 43 deaths nationwide this year.

Temporao, however, has sought to calm the public by pointing out that all of the KPC cases so far have involved hospital patients with weakened immune systems.