Abuse Of Antibiotics May Give Rise To Superbugs, Warns Doctor

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 (Bernama) -- The growing abuse of antibiotics among the public may cause bacteria to become increasingly resistant to the drugs and even create superbugs, said Malaysian Doctors Club President Dr Muhammad Hakim Nordin.

Although the abuse has been going on for sometime, it still warranted serious attention, he said, adding that the authorities should check the rampant prescription and use of antibiotics.

"This phenomenon (of misusing antibiotics) is something that has been anticipated, particularly as the nation heads towards attaining developed-nation status. Historically, a similar trend had been evident in other developed nations like the United Kingdom.

"Among the factors that have led to such a phenomenon is the perception of the people that antibiotics are effective for almost every ailment - in fact, many people are putting pressure on their doctors to prescribe antibiotics to them," he told Bernama.

He was commenting on newspaper reports which quoted Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya as saying that antibiotics resistance in the country was at a worrying level due to their frequent and widespread use and abuse in the health sector.

Speaking at the opening of the national-level Antibiotics Awareness Week at Kuala Lumpur Hospital on Monday, Hilmi said while antibiotics were only effective for the treatment of serious bacterial infections, they were also being prescribed for other types of infections which did not require antibiotics.

Over time, he said misuse of antibiotics would cause the bacteria to become resistant to standard treatments.

Dr Muhammad Hakim said the public should be made aware that ailments like the flu, cough, colds, normal fever, diarrhoea and vomitting were caused by viruses, and not bacteria.

"Antibiotics are of no use when it comes to treating viral infections and the patient may end up with side effects. In fact, if the body is exposed to unnecessary doses of antibiotics frequently, the other germs in the body will become strong enough to develop resistance towards the functions of the antibiotics, thus rendering the drugs less useful.

"And, when the body no longer responds to the standard antibiotics, it will require stronger and more expensive drugs," he said.

The rampant abuse of antibiotics has led to an increase in cases involving antibiotics resistance, said Dr Muhammad Hakim, citing the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus, which has developed resistance to the antibiotics Methicillin and Vancomycin.

To stem the danger posed by the overprescription of antibiotics, he said doctors should not concede to their patients' demands for such medicine and should, instead, educate them on the perils of antibiotic abuse.

"There's a tendency among some people to belittle a clinic or hospital if their requests for antibiotics are not entertained," said Dr Muhammad Hakim, adding that antibiotics should only be purchased at pharmacies with a doctor's prescription.