Insane drug cocktails in India net drug makers millions and pose global threat
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
In August of 2016, doctors in Washoe County, Nevada, found that one of their patients couldn’t shake a bad bacterial infection. The infection had likely taken hold years before while the local woman was on an extended visit to India. There, she had undergone multiple hospitalizations and surgery for a leg injury and developed a bone infection. By the time she got back to Nevada, the infection had spread.
The US doctors isolated her in a hospital room and threw all the antibiotics they could at the infection. It resisted all of them—26 in total, tests confirmed. In early September, the woman developed septic shock and died.
Though rare, the case highlights two important points: that drug-resistant bacteria don’t stop at borders and that India is of particular concern in the fight against antibiotic-resistant infections. While cases of drug-resistant bacterial infections are rising globally, recent data shows that India has among the highest rates of such infections in the world. The country is also the largest consumer of antibiotics per capita.
Now, new data paints a clearer picture as to why the country appears to be a breeding ground for drug resistant infections that threaten to spread within and beyond the country.
Drug companies—some international and even US-based—are selling millions of dubious and unapproved cocktails of antibiotics in India, all of which could spur the development of drug-resistant bacteria and imperil patients. The finding, published Monday in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology by UK health experts, suggests that the country poses a risk to global health and undermines efforts to control drug resistance.
Photo courtesy of psyberartist.
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