Health ministry plans antibiotics policy

 To handle increasing antibiotic resistance in the country, the Union Health Ministry is considering a new National Antibiotics Policy.

“We have received some proposals from experts and are examining them to frame a new policy,” Health Secretary Keshav Desiraju told reporters here.

Though in 2011 the ministry had come out with a draft antibiotics policy, it was shelved after protests on some provisions. Under the earlier proposal, several drugs were to be sold only against prescriptions, while others would be available only for hospital use and not in pharmacies.

The need for such a policy arose after leading general medical journal Lancet noted in a report in 2010 the emergence of a new enzyme in India that made bacteria resistant to all known antibiotics. India had taken objection to the name New Delhi Metallo 1 given to the enzyme.

Experts claim that an antibiotics policy is of vital importance to ensure that obstinate strains of micro-organisms do not develop. This is especially so in corporate and private hospitals, where the use of expensive antibiotics is commoner, they said.

The policy, which will curb irrational use of antibiotics, is likely to put restriction on over-the-counter sale of some of the drugs.

There is also a proposal to establish a national antibiotic resistance surveillance system, with representation from the government and private hospitals from all regions of the country.

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