Overuse of antibiotics harming India’s fight against TB: The Lancet
India, which is facing the highest burden of tuberculosis (TB) in the world, is also the world’s largest consumer of antibiotics, say researchers of Indian-origin in a study,
conducted to determine whether pharmacies have contributed to the inappropriate use of antibiotics. TB is a potentially serious infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs. Excess usage of antibiotics has lead to significant antimicrobial resistance that threatens the effective prevention and treatment of TB, as resistant microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) are able to withstand attack by the antimicrobial drugs. The findings showed that pharmacies frequently dispensed antibiotics to simulated patients who presented with typical TB symptoms. However, none of the pharmacies dispensed first-line anti-tuberculosis drugs without prescriptions. Antibiotics and steroids (which can be harmful to individuals who actually have TB), were dispensed only when the patient presented with a lab test confirming TB, thus making the diagnosis apparent to the pharmacist, the study said. “Our study clearly showed that not a single pharmacy gave away first line anti-TB drugs (isoniazid, rifampicin, ethambutol, pyrazinamide and streptomycin) without prescriptions,” said Madhukar Pai, Canada Research Chair at McGill University, in Quebec, Canada.