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Overuse of antibiotics concerns officials

(Xinhua)

09:16, October 20, 2011

The overuse of antibiotics has brought health risks to an entire generation in China, said a senior official with the country's top health authority.

Yao Jianhong, deputy head of the drug policy department of the Ministry of Health (MOH), stressed the overuse of antimicrobial drugs, including antibiotics, has become a prominent issue in the medical industry, the Beijing-based Guangming Daily reported.

China is among the countries facing the most serious misuse and overuse of antibiotics, with an average annual consumption per capita of 138 grams, 10 times the figure in the United States, the report said, quoting Xiao Yonghong, researcher of the National Laboratory of Infectious Disease Diagnosis and Treatment.

Antibiotics are generally used to treat bacterial infections. Overuse of antibiotics increases antimicrobial resistance that prolongs illnesses and hospital stays and may even cause death, according to the World Health Organization.

According to a survey by the MOH, about 70 percent of hospitalized patients take antibiotics, which is twice as much as Western countries.

"In fact, research shows more than 80 percent of surgical patients didn't need to take antibiotics if they received proper treatment in hospital," a doctor surnamed Chen at the General Hospital of the Armed Police Force in Beijing told the Global Times.

Chen said adopting precautious measures, such as maintaining sanitation, could effectively prevent infection after surgery.

"Driven by high profits, a number of doctors prescribe antibiotics, a relatively more expensive medicine, although they already know the result of overuse," said Xu Donglin, the manager's assistant at Jilin Aodong Medicine Industry Group in Jilin to the Guangming Daily.

The MOH will continue the national campaign to promote the measured use of antimicrobials, said Vice Minister Ma Xiaowei. Ma explained, in the past half year, the campaign has greatly cut the total amount of antimicrobials used in hospitals.

"The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) should limit the varieties of antimicrobial drugs to just ensure the national drug demands," Xiao said.

According to the SFDA, varieties of antibiotics still account for 60 percent of the total amount.

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