Antibiotics for small ailments lead to resistance in patients

Cases on the rise as doctors ignore WHO warnings, say experts

Administering antibiotics for minor ailments will up the chances of patients developing antibiotic resistance, warn experts. A number of antibiotic resistance cases are already being reported in the City.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have been warning doctors to use antibiotics judiciously, but little seems to have changed. While a few doctors claim that they have no choice, but to heed the patients’ demand for antibiotics, other doctors fear that administering a low dosage drug could drive their patients elsewhere.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Dr Anil Sapare, HoD, department of pediatrics, Narayana Health City, said that a number of children were being administered multiple doses of antibiotics.

“This season, we have been noticing a number of gastroenteritis cases. Not only does administering antibiotics lead to side effects, but also kills the friendly microbodies in the system, affecting the child’s health in the long run”. He said that around 30 per cent children have community-acquired infections. However, the bacteria are multi-drug resistant. This, especially with those having urinary tract infections, noted Sapare.

Besides excessive use, inappropriate administration is a cause for concern. Dr Ansar Ahmed, medical superintendent, Isolation Hospital, said, “More than the patients, doctors themselves panic at times. The first blunder is to prescribe drugs without any tests and investigation. Moreover, if there are no immediate results, the antibiotics are changed frequently. This is one of the major contributing factors for developing resistance”.

The spurt in the multi-drug resistant tuberculosis could also be a cause for the resistance, with patients dropping out of their long-term course mid-way.
Dr Shashidhar Buggi, director, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, emphasised the need to have pharmacology sections in all major hospitals and medical colleges to address the issue. 

No new antibiotics
Dr Narayana Reddy, professor, Pharmacology department, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, said that there were no new antibiotic drugs in the market to combat resistance.

“Till 2000, a number of new antibiotics hit the market. What we have seen in the last 15 years is just an imitation of the existing drugs. They are not new formulations in themselves. There are 12,500 formulations in the drug market, of which only 300 are useful,” he said.

On setting up pharmacology units in hospitals, he said that there was a need to have an effective controlling machinery to ensure there is no abuse.

Dr Uma Sheshagiri, president, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Bengaluru branch, is of the opinion that 98 per cent of the doctors in urban areas do not prescribe antibiotics unless necessary. The association has been conducting continuing medical education (CME) programmes on the same to drive home the message.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus and Vancomycin-resistant bacteria are the most commonly seen. The resistances are primarily acquired due to unhygienic conditions in hospitals, Dr Sheshagiri said.

“Most patients discontinue their medicine course midway, which is a major cause for antibiotic resistance,” she said.  

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