In 2021, Pakistan saw an unprecedented spike in antibiotic usage, with bactericidal medications worth Rs120 billion taken, according to officials and specialists, who believe that over 70% of antibiotics consumed by patients were unneeded.
According to official data obtained by The News, oral and injectable antibiotic drugs costing Rs119,745,122,879 were consumed in Pakistan in 2021 alone, accounting for over 10% of the country’s total health spending. According to the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), Pakistan has roughly 333 manufacturers of antibiotic drugs, both oral and injectable, producing 87 different brands (generic antibiotic medicines).
There are 13 antimicrobial medicines registered with the DRAP by these 333 pharma makers, of which 1,604 are active items, meaning they are available on the local market.
“Last year (2021) was a unique year when an unprecedented increase in the consumption of antibiotics was observed all over the world, including Pakistan. For instance, over 95 per cent of Covid-19 patients in Pakistan consumed antibiotic medicines despite having absolutely no role in the treatment of this disease,” Dr Faisal Mehmood, an infectious diseases expert associated with the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Karachi, said while talking.
He added that during the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, most people with even minor fevers used antibiotics on their own or on the advice of doctors, relatives, or family friends, and that azythromycin remained the most commonly used medicine by Covid-19 patients, despite the fact that it played no role in the disease’s treatment.