Don’t sell antibiotics without physician's advice

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

Once regarded as blessings, antibiotics or antimicrobial drugs have now turned in to "dangerous" medicines. Specialist physicians and researchers at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) published a report on the efficacy of antibiotics last week. They said that the excessive use of antibiotics has reached the level of crime. The antibiotics nowadays not only are failing to prevent diseases, it is also creating long term threats due to arbitrary use of this group of medicines.

Antibiotics work against bacterial diseases. Research has shown that, in some cases the bacteria has become 75 to 95 per cent resistant to a specific antibiotic. This means that antibiotics aren't effective anymore.

Professor Md Fazle Rabbi Chowdhury of the internal medicine department of the BSMMU said some antibiotics are known as reserved. These reserved antibiotics are the last resort. These antibiotics shouldn’t be used until the situation becomes unavoidable. Due to the arbitrary and unnecessary use, antibiotics are not working on patients infected by bacteria, virus and fungus. As a result, people are dying. A total of 1.27 million people died across the world due to this reason. In Bangladesh, more than 26,000 people died at the same time.

A total of 72,260 samples were tested at the microbiology and immunology department of the university from 1 January 2022 to June 2023. Bacteria were detected in some 15,751 samples of them. The test results show that some bacteria have become 75 to 90 per cent resistant to certain antibiotics. It means that arbitrary use of antibiotics has increased further in the last four years.

The research further shows that antibiotics are more likely to be ineffective among the patients who received treatment in the ICU. People come to the hospital with a specific disease. However, they got infected with other antibiotic resistant bacteria after coming to hospital. The patients are very often administered with alternative antibiotics in case any antibiotic does not work. It increases the expenses several times, though the patient hasn’t recovered.

In this case, both the physicians and patients have to be careful about prescribing or using antibiotics. A certain dosage of a specific antibiotic is needed for full recovery from a disease. However, many patients often stop using antibiotics before getting fully recovered. It creates the chances of the patient getting infected with the same disease again.

The recommendation from the experts of not using antibiotics without any physician’s advice must be abided by. Medicines are not sold without any physician’s prescription abroad. However, the scenario is quite the opposite in our country.

The same medicines may not work as the patterns of the diseases have changed. Research on commonly used medicines is always ongoing in advanced countries.

However, the number of such research is very low in our country. An expert has stressed on regularly updating the guidelines for using antibiotics. For that, we need more research and experimentation on commonly used medicines.

Apart from the physicians and drug sellers, the patients and their families will have to be aware about this. The tendency of using antibiotics whenever any symptom emerges should be avoided. In this case, there is no alternative to the patient's awareness.