The Blatant Misuse of Antibiotics in India

By Dr. Arvind Taneja in Paediatrics (Ped)

Apr 12 , 2022 | 1 min read

India has the unhappy distinction of being amongst the highest consumers of Antibiotics per person per year in the world. Various antibiotics are dispensed by the corner store chemist, MBBS and MD doctors and specialists, the registered or unregistered medical practitioners and veterinary workers.

This unregulated & indiscriminate prescribing consequently leads to the emergence of bacteria resistant to multiple drugs (MDR), extensively resistant drugs (XDR) and even totally resistant drugs (TDR). The same phenomena is seen even in Tuberculosis causing bacteria. These bugs now constitute a significant proportion of Bacteria isolated from the hospitals and even the community

The reason for this behavior are partly due to patient behavior and demand and also contributed by misuse by caregivers. A recent case in example is the Covid 19 pandemic. Antibiotics, Antiparasitics, Antimalarials were used very liberally without a valid reasoned indication. All this misuse happened without any robust evidence of their effectiveness and exposed patients to their sometimes-serious side effects.

Under dosing, not adhering to duration prescribed for and frequent switching of antibiotics are predisposing factors to antibiotic resistance. Narrow spectrum antibiotics should preferably be used. Broad Spectrum antibiotics (Tamancha or Blunderbuss) treatment is mostly unnecessary, expensive and puts antibiotic pressure on the bacterial population. This leads to MDR, XDR and TDR bacteria, sometimes leading to loss of lives.

The only solution is to educate the caregivers to question themselves, if they are doing right and for the people to question the doctor about the disease and the need for an antibiotic. Needless to say at least 50% of all illnesses are caused by viruses, where antibiotics have no role