Antibiotics still on sale without prescription across Bangladesh

Manzur H Maswood | Published: 00:15, May 26,2019 | Updated: 16:51, May 26,2019


The sale of antibiotics without prescription goes unabated in the capital and elsewhere across the country as the Directorate General of Drug Administration has taken no action against the malpractice.
On April 25, the High Court Division asked the government to stop sale of any antibiotics without prescriptions from registered doctors.
The drug administration took no action against the malpractice on the plea that it was yet to receive the copy of the court order.
The bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil asked the drug administration to issue a circular in two days asking deputy commissioners and civil surgeons to take steps needed to prevent the sale of antibiotics without prescriptions.
The court order came in the face of growing antibiotic resistance.
New Age correspondent found no problem in buying antibiotics without prescription from drug stores anywhere in the capital including at Shahbagh, Kathalbagan, Moghbazar, Khilgaon and Basabo.
No drug store hesitated to sell even powerful antibiotics like Ciprofloxacin, Azithromycin, Flucloxacillin and Ampicillin.
‘Who cares about the court order,’ said Mainul Hasan, who owns Comilla Pharmacy at South Goran of Khilgaon.
The picture is no different at outlying districts.
Mamun Bishwas, who owns Bishwas Pharmacy at Jamira Bazar in Khulna said that antibiotics were being sold without prescriptions.
Many drug sellers said they never heard about the court order.
Drug administration spokesperson Sabrina Yesmin said that no action was taken as they were yet to receive the copy of the High Court order.
Bangladesh Health Rights Movement chairman Rashid-e-Mahbub said that the negligence of the drug administration in stopping the sale of any medicine without prescriptions was endemic.
He said that the drug administration needed no court order to stop the the sale of medicines without prescriptions.
The professor said that drug administration cannot shirk its mandated responsibility to monitor the sale of antibiotics without prescriptions.
Doctors said that high rates of antibiotic use and misuse contributed to a public health catastrophe making patients increasingly resistant to antibiotics.
The sale of antibiotics without prescription is a major cause of widespread use and misuse of antibiotics.
Once bacteria get resistant to antibiotics, treating infection becomes difficult and in the some cases, medically impossible. Untreated, bacterial infections can spread rapidly and may cause a public health catastrophe, health experts said.
Growing antimicrobial resistance created a serious public health crisis in Bangladesh, revealed studies.
A study published in the March issue of International Journal of Infectious Diseases showed a horrific picture of antibiotic resistance against many common bacteria in Bangladesh.
The study titled ‘Antibiotic resistance in Bangladesh: A systematic review’ analysed 46 studies carried out between 2004 and 2018 on antibiotic resistance.
It found that bacteria causing common ailments like urinary tract infection, pneumonia and ear infection were becoming resistant to most of the antibiotics in Bangladesh.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University pharmacology chairman Sayedur Rahman said that the existing antibiotics should be prescribed cautiously since there was less possibility of availability of new antibiotics in near future.
The pharmacologist said that antibiotics were available at drug stores across the country and anyone seeking prompt cure from simple viral infections like fever, cold and diarrhoea, which did not require antibiotics to cure at all, used to buy antibiotics from the drug stores and take them whimsically.
Unregulated pharmacies and quacks are also contributing to the antibiotic resistance, he said.
‘There are about 2.3 lakh pharmacies and 4 lakh quacks in the country and they sell or prescribe antibiotics for unnecessary reasons rampantly,’ said the pharmacology professor.
According to drug administration officials, antibiotics were the second best-selling drug in Bangladesh.
According to a review on the pharmaceutical industry business in Bangladesh by LankaBangla, the sale of antibiotic was Tk 1,687.61 crore in 2018, the second most sold medicine after acidity drugs.

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