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Superbugs: Born to kill

Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria and other microorganisms to resist the effects of an antibiotic to which they were once sensitive. It is also known as 'drug resistance'. This makes the medications less effective as a result of which higher doses of drugs are needed to treat an ailment; which would result in more side effects. Microorganisms which are resistant to multiple drugs are called 'Multi drug resistant -MDR' organisms or "Superbugs".

India is the world's antibiotic popping capital, recording the highest number of such pills consumed annually which is 13 billion, as against 10 billion in China and 7 billion in the U.S.

What are the Indian causes for such an emergence of resistance?

1. Self-medicating by indiscriminately prescribing some irrational antibiotic.
This is generally done by patients to save themselves the trouble of visiting a doctor. Very rarely does one succeed in treating the ailment in this manner. The worse situation arises when the patient self-medicates and stops the antibiotic without completing the entire therapy. It is the perfect recipe for developing drug resistance.

2. The other group of patients who rely on their local B.Pharm chemist to dispense some antibiotic rather than visiting a doctor. It is termed as OTC- Over the counter medication. This is one of the reasons why the FDA has come down hard on the retail chemist outlets.

3. Doctors are to be blamed equally for this rising incidence of resistance. For instance, when a patient suffering from a bout of Viral Fever visits his/her General Practitioner or Family Physician; he is prescribed an antibiotic for a few days knowing full well that an antibiotic has no role in a viral illness.

4. Once the patient is hospitalized, the consultant takes over the case. He generally starts with a potent and broad spectrum antibiotic since he doesn't want to take any chances.

Dr. Maya Golikere
Dr. Maya Golikere
BAMS, Panchakarma General Physician, 2 yrs, Pune
Dr. Reshma P. Ransing
Dr. Reshma P. Ransing
BHMS, Family Physician, Pune
Dr. Manohar Wani
Dr. Manohar Wani
MBBS, General Physician, 44 yrs, Pune
Dr. Abhijit Sangule
Dr. Abhijit Sangule
BDS, Dentist, 8 yrs, Pune