India's antibiotic usage touching alarming levels: Study

A recent study suggests that India has witnessed the highest increase in antibiotic consumption among Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) between 2000 and 2015.

The doctors and experts warn that prolonged use of antibiotics can result in patients becoming anti-antibiotic so much that even primary diseases would become difficult to treat thus, transforming them into fatal diseases.

According to medical experts, if such issues continue to progress, no antibiotics will be left even for the most simple infections by 2030.

Key Highlights

• The new study revealed that India saw the highest increase - 103 percent in antibiotic consumption followed by China and Pakistan between 2000 and 2015.

• Antibiotic consumption was defined in Daily Defined Doses (DDD). It said in 2015, the leading High-Income Countries (HIC) consumers of antibiotics were the United States, France, and Italy, while the leading LMIC consumers were India, China, and Pakistan.

• While the antibiotic consumption in the three leading HICs increased marginally, the highest-consuming LMICs saw large increases.

• Between 2000 and 2015, antibiotic consumption increased from 3.2 to 6.5 billion Daily Defined Doses (103 per cent) in India, from 2.3 to 4.2 billion DDDs (79 per cent) in China and from 0.8 to 1.3 billion DDDs (65 per cent) in Pakistan.

• In 2012, India toppled the United States in antibiotic consumption rate for oxazolidinones (newer and last-resort antibiotic class eg. Linezolid) to become the highest consumer of the drug class.


Reacting to the study, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Secretary General R N Tandon said most people end up in inappropriate choice, improper usage along with inadequate duration. "It is necessary to consult a doctor before taking the dosage of antibiotics, he added."

How to curb antibiotic consumption?

Efforts to improve water and sanitation such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Open Defecation Free cities together with the introduction of new vaccines that help prevent infections would be significant steps towards decreasing antibiotic consumption.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP), Princeton University, ETH Zurich and the University of Antwerp. It was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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