Himansu Shekhar Rout

Two days ago medical practitioners and doctors were asked by the Union Health Ministry to mandatorily specify the reasons while prescribing antibiotics. Besides, pharmacists were directed to stop the over-the-counter sale of antibiotics without the prescription of a qualified doctor. 

The move of the Union Health Ministry is said to have come amid growing concerns over the misuse and overuse of antibiotics. 

Explaining the rationale behind the Union Health Ministry’s directive, Odisha Health Director, Dr Bijay Mohapatra welcomed the move and said that the irrational use of antibiotics has led to growing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) globally which has become a concern. 

“This is happening because of the irrational use of antibiotics. Proper quantities of antibiotics should be given as per the requirement of the cases,” he added.

He further stated that the Government of India has appealed to medical practitioners to cite the reasons for prescribing antibiotics to patients. Doctors have to write the diagnosis and indications for which antibiotics are suggested, he observed.

The Health Director said, “There are antibiotics for stomach problems and for respiratory problems. Hence, the reason should be cited for which purpose antibiotics are being recommended. Rational use of antibiotics will lessen antimicrobial resistance (AMR). It is a welcome step. Medicine shops should not sell antibiotics without doctors' prescriptions. ”  

He added that misuse of antibiotics should be contained or else AMR is going to pose grave dangers like zoonotic diseases.  

Drugs Controller, Ashok Patra said, "We have issued a directive to all drug inspectors to ensure that medicine shops do not sell antibiotics without medical prescriptions. They have been told to take stern action against those violating the order. Medicine shops will maintain registers while selling such medicines.”     

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It is said that AMR is directly responsible for 1.27 million global deaths in 2019, while 4.95 million deaths were linked to drug-resistant infections.

The Union Health Ministry has said in its communication, “With few new antibiotics in the Research and Development pipeline, prudent antibiotic use is the only option to delay the development of resistance.”