Govt to Regulate Sale of Antibiotics in Islamabad

Due to repeated concerns over the years on antibiotics misuse, the government has finally decided to act and will now regulate their sale in the federal capital.

Sardar Shabbir, Senior Drug Inspector, while talking to the media said,

As a first step, an advisory has been issued to all medical stores to ensure that antibiotics are not sold without prescriptions. Moreover, medical stores have been asked to maintain the record of antibiotics and its sale, including copies of the prescriptions.

When a bacteria evolves to defeat the antibiotics designed to eradicate it, it’s termed antibiotic resistant and this can lead to dangerous infections. This leads to illnesses that last longer, more visits to the doctor and the need for more expensive and toxic antibiotics and in some cases disability or even death.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) will result in 10 million deaths over the next 35 years and if the trend isn’t reserved, the management cost is estimated at $100 trillion by 2050.

AMR is on the rise in Pakistan and over-the-counter (OTC) sale of antibiotics is one of the major causes of this. A letter seen by the media says,

Antibiotics are included in Schedule B and G of the ICT Drug Rules 2013 which entails that such drug cannot be sold without prescription. Furthermore, the said rules also require retaining copy of the prescription and maintenance of proper sale record.

An immediate ban on the OTC sale of antibiotics has been ordered along with ensuring that such drugs are sold with proper prescription of registered medical professionals, who have a proper record. This ban has been ordered in pharmacies and medical stores in the capital. The letter has been sent to the relevant stakeholders including hospitals.

Shabbir further added,

In the past, we ensured that practice in case of controlled drugs as medical stores were directed to keep a photocopy or picture of the prescription and submit a detailed record. We have decided to follow the same policy for antibiotics. After three months, we will go for fines and other actions, including the closure of medical stores.

He also said, along with an inventory of antibiotics, stores will have to submit information regarding the purchasers.

Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences’ (PIMS) Dr Waseem Khawaja said that antibiotics should only be used in accordance with a proper prescription by qualified officials and the full regimen should be followed and by not completing it, the bacteria is more likely to become antibiotic resistant. Over 88% of antibiotic prescriptions are not needed and are used for self-limiting Upper Respiratory Tract Infections which lead to more problems.

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