New Delhi: The threat of a multi-drugresistant superbug looming large has forced the government toconsider introduction of a separate schedule in the existingDrugs Act to regulate and check unauthorised sale ofantibiotics in the country. According to the current law, schedule H of the Drugsand Cosmetics Act contains a list of 536 drugs which arerequired to be dispensed on the prescriptions of a registeredmedical practitioner.
The factors responsible for this are widespread useand availability of practically all the antimicrobials acrossthe counter meant for human, animal and industrialconsumption, the ministry says. To monitor antimicrobial resistance, it is necessaryto have regulations for use and misuse of antibiotics in thecountry, creation of national surveillance system forantibiotic resistance, mechanism of monitoring prescriptionaudits, regulatory provision for monitoring use of antibioticsin human, veterinary and industrial sectors and identificationof specific intervention measures for rational use ofantibiotics. The health ministry has in this regard alsoconstituted a task force to review the current situationregarding manufacture, use and misuse of antibiotics in thecountry, recommend the design for creation of a NationalSurveillance System for Antibiotic Resistance, initiatestudies documenting prescription patterns and establishmonitoring system for the same. International medical journal `Lancet` had recentlypublished a study claiming the present of antibiotic-resistantsuperbug NDM-I in the capital`s public water supply system. Though the Indian Health Ministry has denied itspresence as well as questioned the motives of the study, ithas led to jitters within the health establishment with thegovernment initiating studies into the report. Members of the task force, headed by Director Generalof Health Services (DGHS) R K Srivastava include Ranjit RoyChaudhury (Member, Board of Governors, MCI), S K Bramhachari(Director General, CSIR), Surender Singh (Drugs ControllerGeneral of India) and Randeep Guleria (professor AIIMS).
The group will help formulate a NationalAntimicrobial Policy which will include understandingemergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance and thefactors influencing it. It will also establish a nationwide well coordinatedantimicrobial programme with well defined and interlinkedresponsibilities and functions of different arms of theprogramme, rationalising the usage of availableantimicrobials, reducing antibiotic selection pressures byappropriate control measures and promotion of discovery ofnewer and effective antimicrobials based on current knowledgeof resistance mechanisms. PTI
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