Antibiotics: Medical City’s Unhealthy Strain

Pushpa Narayan | The Times of India | October 9, 2014

Last week, an advisory came from two medical associations asking doctors across India not to prescribe antibiotics for cold and fever. Experts say if doctors in Tamil Nadu decide to follow the advisory, it would make a difference, but point out that both the associations and the government missed several opportunities to develop an antibiotic policy for the state.

Chennai has been at the center of recent controversies over the use of antibiotics. The seminal 2010 Lancet paper that identified the emergence of superbugs resistant to a variety of antibiotics found that the superbugs came from Chennai and Hyderabad. Chennai-based doctors' associations admitted that drug-resistant bugs emerged because of "mindless" antibiotics prescriptions. Yet they did little to bring down their excessive prescription.

Since at least 2000, evidence of drug-resistant bacteria has been emerging in Chennai. For instance, researchers at the National Tuberculosis Research Centre said that drug-resistant tuberculosis was increasing either due to too much use of antibiotics or incomplete treatment course. "The treatment is offered free but people who skip treatment midway not only endanger themselves but also put others at risk. They spread this drug-resistant bug to many others," said the centre's director Dr Soumya Swaminathan...