India kicks off 'red line' guide on antibiotic overprescription

J.P. Nadda

The government of India will change the packaging on certain classes of drugs to crack down on the overprescription of antibiotics, which has become a worldwide problem and in some cases an outright crisis as various infections and diseases become resistant to the drugs.

India said it will add a "red line" to the packaging to set them apart from other drugs and to "discourage unnecessary prescription" and over the counter sales of antibiotics, according to a report from the Times of India, used to treat TB, malaria, and HIV.

"India is committed to combating antimicrobial resistance (AMR). However, a collective action is required by all stakeholders within a country and by all countries within a region," the country's health minister, J.P. Nadda said in the report.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and other national and international groups have already raised alerts on antibiotic resistance in human and animal treatments and all have said that countries around the world need to cut down on antibiotic use or common infections will become fatal and the human race will be thrown into the Middle Ages in terms of infection treatment.

"Now is the time to turn pledges into action, stake out a clear roadmap and take action to prevent further erosion of our health security. The effectiveness of existing antibiotics is extremely valuable," Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO's regional director for Southeast Asia, said in the report.

The problem is especially acute in India, which has the highest number of TB patients in the world with over 2.3 million new cases every year, the report said. And while the country has protocols in place to restrict antibiotics, the country has no enforcement mechanism to curb overuse.

The country was cited in a September report by the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy as the top country in the world for antibiotic use. That report said 57% of the infections caused by one superbug in hospitals were resistant to drugs of last resort.

In October, British officials also weighed in and said the country needed to narrow the spectrum of antibiotics available and also said up to 10 million people around the world could die by 2050 because of antibiotic overuse.

- here's the report from the Times of India