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OTC sale of antimicrobials needs to be banned to prevent AMR: Dr V Kanagasabai

Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai
Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Hailing the AMR containment activities being implemented by the Union health ministry through the National Medical Commission (NMC), former Dean of the Madras Medical College and Professor of Pharmacology, Dr V Kanagasabai has said that regulatory intervention is urgently required for a complete ban of OTC sale of antimicrobials which is a pathway for the rapid emergence of the antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Over-the-counter sales of antimicrobials which kill microorganisms or reduce the presence of microbes leads to their misuse or overuse. Sale of antibiotics without a valid prescription from a qualified doctor has to be prohibited with immediate effect, he said while welcoming the national action plan on AMR being implemented by the union health ministry.
Recently, the Union health secretary has directed the NMC to implement the AMR containment activities in all the government and private medical colleges and associated hospitals in the country after making appropriate changes in the curriculum and regulations. The ministry finds that because of overuse and misuse of antimicrobials, AMR has occurred even to the newer antibiotics and it becomes a global threat today for the effective prevention and treatment against all infectious diseases.
The Union health ministry’s circular assumes significance in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic as the circular itself says that many healthcare workers were also tested positive and succumbed to the virus attack due to lack of adequate infection prevention and control (IPC) practices. For better IPC practices for the future, the government has wanted the NMC to direct all medical colleges and associated hospitals to replace ‘syndromic management’ of infectious diseases with laboratory evidence-based  treatment to prevent the over-use and misuse of antimicrobials.

Further, the ministry advises that implementing good infection prevention and control practices to prevent spread of infections in health care facilities among patients and from patient to healthcare workers will also reduce antimicrobial use. It is suggested that these day to day practices of IPC should be made part of the medical education curriculum.

Commenting on this suggestion by the union health ministry, Dr. Kanagsabai, who is now the vice-chancellor of a private university in Chennai, has said currently laboratory tests and evaluation of bacteria are held only in government and private medical colleges and in their associated hospitals. This benefits only a group of people living in urban areas. For complete containment of AMR, scientific evidence based treatment has to be implemented in all the district and taluk hospitals. Additionally, awareness on the use of antibiotics has to be given to the general public.
Regarding updating the curriculum of medical students with IPC and rotational use of antimicrobials, Dr Kanagasabai said knowledge about newer antimicrobials has to be shared not only with the students but also with the practicing medical professionals. NMC or the doctors bodies should conduct exclusive ‘continuing medical education’ (CME) programmes on pharmacology and microbiology for the doctors. Presently, the CMEs cover only a general talk on these two areas which assume critical importance when various kinds of infections are emerging day by day. He said this awareness and discussion will help for developing an antibiotic policy for the healthcare system.


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Dr setty Oct 26, 2021 10:57 AM
Antibiotics are dispensed indricriminately
The prescription is used many times to save the fees to the doctor
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