There was serious engagement between Maneka Gandhi (BJP) and Jyoti Mirdha (Congress) with Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad during question hour in Lok Sabha on Friday.
Responding to a question on the “irrational use of antbiotics,” Azad explained that a task force set up to look into the matter had recommended that a stringent schedule (X) be added to Drugs Control but 56 MPs cutting across party lines and chemists’ organisations as well as dcotors had made a representation that this was too harsh. The government had to scale it down and create schedule (H1).
Gandhi said 70% of the antibiotics was used in poultry, piggery and cattle feed and it this entered the human food chain through meat and dairy products, and made human beings resistant to antibiotics. Azad admitted that this was indeed the case and that this was one of the environmental aspects that a committee of the Drugs Controller was looking into.
Mirdha said there were was four lakh chemists in the country and because of the intense competition, that outside every hospital there were rows of chemists’ shops and each one tried to outbid each other by selling antibiotics even without prescription.
Azad said it would be difficult to implement a stringent rule because in the rural areas there were no doctors and people are forced to turn to chemists to buy medicines. He confessed that desptie the many incentives, doctors were not willing to go to rural areas and that this was the hard ground reality. He has however promised that a way will be found so that fourth generation antibiotics cannot be sold without prescription.