In a proactive move to combat the alarming rise in antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has issued a directive to doctors across India, urging them to explicitly list the reasons when prescribing medicines. The notice, issued by the Director General of Health Services, Dr. Atul Goel, emphasizes the critical need to address the misuse and overuse of anti-microbials, a significant driver of drug-resistant pathogens.
The notice underscores the urgency of the situation, with AMR being identified as a top global public health threat. Doctors are now mandated to mention the exact indication, justification, or reason when prescribing antimicrobials. The Director General highlights that this step is essential to curb the emergence of drug-resistant pathogens, ensuring responsible and targeted use of antibiotics.
Recognizing the pharmacist's role in this effort, the notice also calls upon pharmacist associations to adhere strictly to the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules in the sale of antibiotics. Pharmacists are reminded to implement the schedule H and H1 of the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules, selling antibiotics only on valid prescriptions from registered medical practitioners.
The directive emphasizes the importance of judicious use of anti-microbials in medical colleges, urging doctors to set an example for the next generation. With few new antibiotics in the research and development pipeline, responsible antibiotic use becomes paramount to delay the development of resistance.
The notice notes that medical colleges not only provide tertiary healthcare but also serve as hubs for educating the younger generation of doctors. By instilling the values of judicious antimicrobial use in the medical community, the ministry aims to address the crisis of AMR, which is anticipated to become more severe.
Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945, antibiotics fall under Schedule H, requiring them to be sold only on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner. The notice particularly calls for the strict implementation of these rules, emphasizing the significance of preventing over-the-counter sales of antibiotics.
Experts have raised concerns about the easy availability of antibiotics without proper prescriptions, contributing to the rise in drug resistance. Dr. Jugal Kishore, Head of Community Medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, highlights the dangers of indiscriminate drug use, emphasizing that antibiotic misuse can lead to bacteria becoming resistant, making treatment increasingly challenging.
According to the World Health Organization, bacterial AMR was directly responsible for 1.27 million global deaths in 2019. With 4.95 million deaths associated with drug-resistant infections, AMR poses a significant threat to the gains of modern medicine. The ministry's directive aims to safeguard public health by promoting responsible antibiotic use and curbing the misuse that contributes to the emergence of drug-resistant microbes.