HAAD aims drastic cut in antibiotic use

ABU DHABI — Antibiotics and painkillers are the most prescribed medicines by physicians, with spending on antibiotics in the Capital accounting for over Dh200 million last year, said a 
health official.

By Olivia Olarte

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Published: Tue 19 Oct 2010, 10:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:30 PM

Dr Mohammal Abuelkhair, head of Drugs and Medical Products Regulation at the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD), said antibiotic consumption in the UAE is rising with physicians prescribing these drugs for simple ailments like common cold and sore throat.

“Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are on the top two of medicines being used although in some cases a patient does not need antibiotics,” he said, adding that most of the time, a patient ends up with three prescriptions — an antibiotic, pain medicine and another medicine to soothe the stomach from the effect of the other medicines.

Speaking on the sidelines of the fourth Abu Dhabi Medical Congress on Monday on the rational use of antibiotics, Dr Abuelkhair said of the 208 prescriptions by general practitioners at hospitals in Abu Dhabi, 73.56 per cent were for antibiotics, according to HAAD’s 2009 prescription audit results.

“There is misuse of antibiotics in the community... We see a lot of antibiotics being used for upper respiratory infection such as sore throat and in urinary tract infection (UTI). But most of the upper respiratory tract infection is viral in origin and they do not need antibiotics but we see physicians prescribing them, pharmacist dispensing them and patients asking for them,” the official told Khaleej Times.

As per the federal law, antibiotics are classified as prescription-only medicine. But the HAAD has uncovered several misuses including dispensing medication without prescription.

In the next two years, one of the HAAD’s goals is to reduce antibiotic consumption by 25 per cent in the two most prevalent infectious disease conditions — the upper respiratory tract infection and UTI — through several intervention plans addressing the patients, physicians, pharmacies and payer (insurance). The plans included providing continuous medical education for general practitioners, who “lack the knowledge about differential diagnoses and appropriate use of antimicrobials” and pharmacists, and awareness programmes for the community.

“All drugs, including antibiotics, have been shown to save lives. However, overusing them can lead to resistance and, therefore, they may not save lives, so we want to preserve their use to save lives,” Dr Abuelkhair pointed out.

Inappropriate use of antibiotics could also have serious adverse reaction on the patient.

We have received a few reports of people getting acute cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder) from ceftriaxone (antibiotic injection), which is a paediatric practice of prescribing it for children with simple ear infection,” he said. For an ear infection, a more basic medication such as amoxicillin should have sufficed, Dr Abuelkhair said, noting that injectables are more prone to side effects than oral medication.“We want more appropriate use of antibiotics in the market because with proper utilisation, we can reduce hospital admission,” he concluded.


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