GlobalPost Examines Antibiotic Resistance In China

GlobalPost examines antibiotic resistance and overprescribing in China. The country “has high rates of antibiotic resistance and a health care system that provides strong financial incentives for over-prescribing antibiotics. Now the central government is taking measures to change that. Stockpiling antibiotics at home is a common practice among Chinese households. Those who are sick will often go to the hospital and pressure doctors to dole out prescriptions, then take a couple and hold the rest in reserve until they get worse or for the next time they’re sick,” GlobalPost writes.

The article details how the SARS epidemic of 2003 led many in China to seek out and use antibiotics as a preventive measure or treatment before it was discovered to be a viral infection, according to Chinese doctor Ding Zhao, GlobalPost writes, adding that “the World Health Organization has warned that efforts to control infectious diseases have been jeopardized by widespread drug resistance, a consequence of poor medical treatment and the misuse of antibiotics.”

In 2004, China’s Ministry of Health “banned over-the-counter sales of antibiotics … and imposed price limits on hundreds of prescription drugs to reduce the incentive for hospitals to over-prescribe.” In January 2009, the ministry stepped up its efforts to stop the misuse of antibiotics once again “after state-run media reported in January 2009 that misuse of antibiotics kills 80,000 people in China a year due to adverse reactions,” with the launching of an educational program geared toward health professionals on “the proper use of antibiotics,” GlobalPost writes. Also, earlier this month, the government issued a revised national Medication Catalog, featuring guidelines on the use of antibiotics for the first time (Yung, 12/22).