There are many in the industry who believe a unified drug pricing policy is just what these markets need Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Health experts warn that the indiscriminate use of antibiotics is making people resistant to the "miracle drugs" and that the future generation will be deprived of this cover.

As the UAE joins the rest of the world in marking World Health Day on Thursday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) notes that "anti-microbial resistance is becoming more dangerous; urgent and consolidated efforts are needed to avoid regressing to the pre-antibiotic era".

Dr Lalit Uchil, specialist family physician, said misuse of antibiotics is a huge problem in the UAE. "Many people treat it [antibiotics] like a menu item in a restaurant," he said. The specialist said many parents force the doctor to prescribe antibiotics for their sick child.

He said many patients change their doctors if he does not prescribe an antibiotic. "‘I have the best of insurance, why is he making such a noise,' they say," the doctor noted. He said the other danger is that people do not take the full course of antibiotics, discontinuing them half way through.

Jaya Kumar, a pharmacist at Safa Society Pharmacy, said about 75 people of the 500 people who walk in daily ask for antibiotics. "We don't give it to them unless we feel they need it."

The family physician said about 95 per cent of the patients who ask for antibiotics complain of viral infections. "It is totally useless for them and they do not understand they are exposing themselves to the risk of becoming resistant [to the drugs]."

Dr Hanif Hassan, Minister of Health, will highlight the dangers of drug resistance under the slogan, ‘No action today, no cure tomorrow', to mark World Health Day tomorrow. The WHO is calling for intensified global commitment to ensure medicines don't lose their usefulness for future generations.

Dr Uchil said not a single new antibiotic has hit the market for close to 20 years. "It costs for any new product over Dh2 billion from research and human trials, before it comes into the market," he said. Drug manufacturers are more focused on drugs for lifestyle diseases given their profitability, he said.

He said there was a serious risk of people eventually becoming resistant to drugs that treat malaria, TB and sexually transmitted diseases. "Combatting these is very crucial," he said.

Common drugs

  • Cefixime: Will not work for colds, flu and other viral infections.
  • Minocycline: Used to treat sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Zithromax: For children to treat ear infections, strep throat.
  • Ceftin: For certain sinus infections.

Message from Ministry of Health:

  • Do not take drugs that are used by someone else.
  • Do not provide your prescription to anyone else.
  • Take drugs as described.
  • Do not break, grind or chew tablets, as this changes the efficacy of the medicine.