By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2022-09-09 03:11:08
A study in Lancet Health - Southeast Asia has confirmed the widely held view in the medical fraternity that there is rampant misuse of antibiotics in India. This is due to several reasons - excessive and sometimes needless prescription by doctors, self-medication by patients and lack of stringent rules that allow chemists to sell antibiotics over the counter without prescription.
Most doctors in India are guilty of prescribing strong antibiotics for even the most common ailments. This is mainly due to the fact that they receive 'commissions' on sales from drug companies. But as medical practitioners, they are the ones who should know that rampant use of antibiotics reduces their efficacy and makes the human body less immune.
Then, most patients try to avoid a visit to the doctor and indulge in self-medication (a dangerous trend). They often dig out old prescriptions and take the same medication again if they find similar symptoms, not knowing that many diseases throw up similar symptoms but need different treatment. A doctor is the best person to diagnose the disease and prescribe medicines. Self-medication has led to people misusing antibiotics.
But this would not have been possible if the local chemist store had demanded a current prescription from patients. Chemists often sell antibiotics over the counter in violation of the rules. It has been reported that post Covid, azithromycin has become the most misused antibiotic in India and people have been popping the drug if they get symptoms of common cold.
This is a dangerous trend and the government must step in to tighten rules to prevent antibiotics from being sold over the counter. The misuse of antibiotics must be stopped as it also reduces immunity and makes people less capable of fighting diseases. People must be warned about the dangerous effects of unnecessary or excessive use of antibiotics.