Doctors to launch campaign against overuse of antibiotics

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) will launch a campaign against reckless use of antibiotics, a practice that has led to emergence of drug-resistant organisms, in a bid to check the prospects of simple infections turning life-threatening in future.

On Sunday, the IMA will launch the campaign, asking its member to stop prescribing antibiotics for common colds, coughs and fevers.

IMA will ask its members to avoid prescribing antibiotics for patients with fever and cold, which are generally caused by seaonal viral infections. An overuse of these life-saving antibiotics has led to emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, threatening lives even in otherwise minor ailments.

Overuse of antibiotics has led to immunity among people and the spawning of drug-resistant organisms - a major cause of worry among the medical community as well as the public.

"In the past two decades, almost no new antibiotic has been discovered while bacteria have learnt to overcome the existing ones. If we don't conserve our antibiotics, a day will come when simple infections will become life threatening," says IMA secretary general Dr Narender Saini.

The IMA campaign would focus on public lectures training sessions for rational use of drugs to spread awareness. Doctors registered with the IMA would be part of the campaign to be held across the country.

Several studies, including those conducted by WHO in India, have revealed that over-the-counter sale and purchase of antibiotics is rampant in the country and doctors too are callous about the use of different antibiotic among patients.

India has emerged as the world's largest consumer of antibiotics, with a 61.25 per cent increase in its use over the past decade.

India's antibiotic use has gone up from eight billion units in 2001 to 12.9 billion units in 2010.

A study by scientists from Princeton University on the global trends in antibiotic use between 2000 and 2010 has found that its use has risen by 36 per cent over 10 years, with five BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - responsible for more than three-quarters of that surge.

The study found that among the 16 groups of antibiotics, cephalosporins, broad-spectrum penicillins and fluoroquinolones accounted for more than half of that increase, with consumption rising 55 per cent between 2000 and 2010.

The study also confirmed an increasing resistance to carbapenems and polymixins, two classes of drugs long considered as "last-resort" antibiotics for illnesses without any other known treatment.