The consumption of widely used antimicrobial drugs has been increasing at a fast pace in recent years in Bangladesh, according to a research study.
The findings of a research study, presented at a function in Dhaka last Wednesday, said the use of antibiotics in Bangladesh has gone up from 16.65 per cent in 2016 to 21.78 per cent in 2018 and it would reach 23 to 25 per cent by the end of this year. The figure might even double in a couple of years, the study cautioned.
Only nine out of 82 antibiotic drugs on which the study was conducted account for 75 per cent of total consumption.
Chairman of the department of pharmacology of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Prof Sayedur Rahman presented the research findings at a dissemination workshop on 'WHO Report on Surveillance of Antibiotic Consumption: 2016-2018 Early Implementation' at a city hotel.
The BSMMU pharmacology department conducted the research on 'Antimicrobial consumption in Bangladesh' on behalf of the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) with technical and financial support from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Regarding antimicrobial dispensing practice in Dhaka city, the research revealed that anyone can procure Ciprofloxacin in Bangladesh without a prescription from a qualified physician while only 9.0 per cent of such buyers can procure Diazepam, an anti-depressant drug.
In 54 per cent cases, patients suffering from viral fever do receive advice to take antimicrobials while simulated patients of sleep disorder never receive advice to take any medications, the study showed.
The research findings listed a number of antibiotics commonly consumed or sold without prescription. They are Ciprofloxacin, Amoxicilin, Azithromycin, Cephalosporines, Metronidazole, Phenoxymethyl Penicilin, Cloxacilin/Flucloxacilin, Azole, Antifungal drugs and others.
Of these antimicrobials which are commonly sold or consumed without prescription, six are among the top nine drugs which constitute 75 per cent of the total consumption, said Prof Sayedur.
About 70 per cent of antibiotics sold across the globe are used in animals and agriculture, thus, worsening the already troubled situation of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), experts said at the workshop.
If this situation continues, only about three antimicrobial drugs would remain effective against the gram positive bacteria and only one against gram negative bacteria within the next seven to 10 years, they warned.
Sounding the alarm, they called on the authorities concerned, health practitioners, regulators and end users to help contain inappropriate and misuse of antimicrobials.
The funds for research and development of new molecules have almost dried up over the past several decades, as pharmaceutical companies have lost their interest in antibiotics, and are focusing more on cancer drugs instead, they pointed out.
"Consumption of antibiotics without prescription is much higher in Bangladesh. The more the use rises, the more the resistance to drugs will grow," Prof. Sayedur said.
Experts said that AMR is not a problem of the developing nations only where antibiotics are readily available, but it is a problem of developed nations as well. Because once a bacteria is found in Asia will be available in other parts of the world too.
Almost all the antibiotics in Bangladesh facing resistance, especially in the intensive care unit (ICU), due to inappropriate and indiscriminate use and misuse of it, they added.
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