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Study Blames Big Pharma for Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Boom in India

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According to a new study conducted by British bacteriologists in India, published by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, the frequent use of unapproved drugs has made Indians the carriers of drug-resistant bacteria; this may pose a wider health risk if the bacteria spreads beyond the country's borders.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — While seeking to establish India as a particular cause of concern in the global fight against antibiotic-resistant infections, the study holds multinational drug companies including Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline, Astra Zeneca, Pfizer, and Merck/MSD, accountable for the problem. The study alleges that the proliferation of non-approved antibiotics sold by these multinational companies in India has spurred the development of drug-resistant bacteria that could cost lives, both in India and beyond its borders.

READ MORE: American Woman Dies of Superbug Resistant to All Antibiotics

"Drug companies, some international and even US-based, are selling millions of dubious and unapproved cocktails of antibiotics in India, all of which could spur the development of drug-resistant bacteria and imperil patients. Drug companies should be required to justify the sale of products in India that do not have the approval of their own national regulators and, in multiple cases, not even the approval of the Indian regulator," the report reads. 

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India Rolls Up Sleeves to Combat Antibiotic Resistance
The authors of the research paper, led by Patricia McGettigan of Queen Mary University of London, have advocated a widespread public awareness drive, backed by strong regulatory mechanisms as the only way out to effectively combat the threat.  Dr. Bobby John, a founding member of Global Health Advocates, India supports the recommendations. 

"There are two critical areas that need attention for addressing antibiotic resistance in India. There needs to be a strong prescription auditing mechanism to check the prescription against the indication for which the antibiotics were prescribed. This can close the loopholes for both bad clinical practices and over-the-counter sales. Second is the Strengthening of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization Company (CDSCO) mechanism to do systematic and random product quality checks, to eliminate low quality and low quantity packages of antibiotics," Dr. Bobby John, who writes for Indian publications' health columns, told Sputnik. 

READ MORE: Rush to Stop Spread of Drug-Resistant 'Japanese Fungus' Found in 55 UK Hospitals

Prof. McGettigan and her colleagues pulled antibiotic sales figures from a commercial database of Indian drug distribution called PharmaTrac. They looked at sales between October 2007 and November 2012. They then compared the inventory of drugs sold in India to the list of drugs approved by India's Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) as well as those approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medical Agency (EMA), according to an analytical report on the study published by the portal arstechnica.com. 

"The researchers found that drug companies sold 86 regular, so-called "single-dose antibiotics" and 118 "fixed-dose combination" antibiotics over the five-year period while drug companies sold just five of these in the US and UK during the same period," the report further adds.

The views and opinions expressed by Dr Bobby John are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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