Customers insist on buying antibiotics over the counter and often carry outdated or faulty prescriptions, chemists said at a workshop held on Sunday for tuberculosis training.
Doctors have cited consumption of strong antibiotics without prescriptions and incomplete medication during TB treatment as some of the reasons for developing multiple drug-resistance TB. “Even if we insist on prescriptions, customers say they need strong medicines for viral infections. If we refuse they go elsewhere,” said a chemist at the workshop held by officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the Indian Pharmaceutical Association.
Soon, the government will issue stringent guidelines for prescriptions and distribution of antibiotics.
Chemists also complained of patients carrying prescriptions of anti-TB drugs from unqualified doctors. “Even if the doctor is not specialist, they prescribe strong antibiotics, which are part of primary TB treatment for other respiratory illnesses. Often those patients do not complete those courses because of carelessness or cost of the medicines,” said another chemist.
“In our country, the so called quacks are more popular and their prescriptions may not be standardised. Indiscriminate prescriptions of anti-TB drugs by unqualified doctors are leading to drug resistance in patients. Almost 15- 20 % patients coming to us have wrong prescriptions,” said Dr Ashok Mahashur, consultant chest physician at Hinduja Hospital.
Although it may not lead to resistance immediately, patients may develop resistance over a long duration of time, trainers at the workshop said.
“People stop medication as soon as they feel better. It does not lead to full recovery, which may lead to drop in immunity. When immunity falls one becomes more vulnerable to TB infection,” said Manjiri Gharat, honorary secretary, Community Pharmacy Division, Indian Pharmaceutical Association.
(Inputs from Sonal Shukla)