Antibiotics are easily available at local retail pharmacies in china without requiring a prescription. The new report published in the journal ‘Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control’ reveals this shocking news. It is against the drug regulations to sell antibiotics without a prescription.
The researchers from Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou share that there should be more work done to make antibiotics available through prescriptions only.
In 2016, a comprehensive plan was announced to address the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) at the G20 summit in China. It emphasizes that by 2020 antibiotics at all pharmacies must need a prescription for sale across all the provinces of China. The degree of progress was investigated by authors in the three regions of China through quantifying the ratio of pharmacies that sell the antibiotics without prescription.
According to the author of study Therese Hesketh from Zhejiang University and University College London that from the last 10 years antibiotics stewardship is improving in the hospitals of China because China government is following strong leadership. Documentation is done about the easiness of access to antibiotics in the pharmacies without having the prescriptions. For controlling AMR, we need to enforce the regulations about the sales of antibiotics without prescription in retail pharmacies.
In 2017 From July to September, a survey was conducted in 13 provinces of China by authors. They use the Stimulated Patient method. 40 students from medical colleges were presented to the pharmacies who showed some mild upper respiratory tract symptoms.
Characteristics of the pharmacies were recorded by the students that include the distance from the nearest hospital, its location, and whether it is linked with chain or independent. Experiences of the pharmacists also recorded by telling them the symptoms, stage of the disease and then asking for the antibiotics. Sometimes they asked for specific antibiotics for checking the level of experience.
A total of 1106 pharmacies were included in the study and visited by the students. Out of the 925(83.6%) gave antibiotics without prescription. 279 (25.2%) pharmacies gave antibiotics on showing the mild symptoms, while 576 (52.1%) pharmacies gave out antibiotics on specific demand and 70 (6.3%) gave antibiotics when students asked them about a particular type of antibiotics.
The remaining 181 (16.4%) pharmacies that offer no antibiotics without prescription gave the following reasons such as prescription is mandatory for antibiotics, no antibiotics available in stock and antibiotics were not indicated.
No significant difference was found in the pharmacies that are in rural and urban areas. At both locations’ antibiotics are easily accessible either the pharmacy is independent, or it is the part of a chain. The access of antibiotics is much easier at the pharmacy which is 2km away from the hospital.
The results showed that very little progress is seen in the pharmacies for not selling the antibiotics without prescription by 2020. It increases the AMR and misuse of antibiotics. It is necessary to train the pharmacists about explaining to the customer why antibiotics are not given to them without prescription. Moreover, public campaigns are needed to spread awareness about the misuse of antibiotics and about their consequences.
Note- This study only included three regions of China so the results may be limited.