As debate springs over prescribing Dolo-650 during the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study raises concerns pointing out the excessive use of antibiotics by Indians. Researchers found that India consumed over 500 crore antibiotics in 2019, of which Azithromycin was the most consumed antibiotic molecule.
The study aims to establish the need for new regulations and strengthen existing ones to monitor and regulate the sale and use of antibiotics.
Published in the journal Lancet Regional Health Southeast Asia, it states that the inappropriate use of antibiotics is a significant driver of antibiotic resistance in India. The research identifies unrestricted over-the-counter sales of most antibiotics complicate the availability and sale of medicine.
“Even though India is the largest antibiotic consumer in absolute volume, the country does not have a formal system of antibiotic use surveillance to guide an antimicrobial stewardship program akin to those found in the US and Europe,” researchers said in the paper adding that the latest global surveillance report from 65 countries — that examined the antibiotic consumption for the year 2015 — did not have data from India.
According to the US-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotics are medicines that fight infections caused by bacteria in humans and animals by either killing the bacteria or making it difficult for them to grow and multiply.
The researchers from the Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health, and Public Health Foundation of India analysed data from PharmaTrac, a private-sector drug sales dataset gathered from a panel of 9000 stockists across the country. They found that the total number of defined daily doses was 5071 million, which was 10.4 defined daily doses per 1000 per day.
Meanwhile, Azithromycin-500 was the most consumed antibiotic, followed by cefixime 200 mg tablet.
“We found that even with a relatively low overall rate of consumption indicating access issues, a high proportion of broad-spectrum antibiotic use in India is a public health concern,” researchers said in the paper.