City gets tougher on overuse of antibiotics

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 November, 2011, 12:00am


Beijing's municipal health department will downgrade hospitals that overuse antibiotics, making the capital the first known city to get tough on the rampant abuse of such drugs.

Among the problems of antibiotics overuse are that it leads to the creation of drug-resistant bacteria - so-called superbugs. Overuse could prove globally disastrous for infectious disease control.

The department website said reasonable use of antibiotics would be considered when it began reassessing hospitals' qualifications next year. Those that fail to reach acceptable standards will be downgraded.

There are three classes of hospital on the mainland, with class three being the highest, and each class subdivided into three levels. The ranking depends on a long list of criteria, from the number of beds to the qualifications of doctors and nurses.

The heads of all the hospitals in the capital and the heads of its district health bureaus have signed pledges to reduce the use of antibiotics.

Medical experts have long warned about the abuse of antibiotics on the mainland.

Zhao Minggang, vice-director of the health ministry's medical administration department, has blamed the problem on poor knowledge of pharmacy among some doctors, together with overprescription encouraged by hospital surcharges of about 15 per cent for medicine.

Xinhua, citing a 2007 survey by Professor Xiao Yonghong of the Zhejiang No 1 People's Hospital, who is the director of the Ministry of Health's national surveillance network for drug-resistant bacteria, said each mainlander consumed an average of 138 grams of antibiotics a year, 10 times the amount Americans took.

The amount of penicillin mainlanders took each year is almost three times the global average. And 70 per cent of mainland inpatients get antibiotics, but the World Health Organisation says it should be 30 per cent.

The health ministry has issued documents over the years to try to regulate the use of antibiotics but has achieved little. It solicited public opinion on a draft guideline on the clinical use of antimicrobial drugs, which include penicillin and tetracycline, in September that stipulated severe penalties for doctors and hospitals that overused them. The draft said doctors who prescribed unnecessary antibiotics could have their prescription rights cancelled.


More than this many types of antibiotic were used in some class three hospitals in Beijing

- They are allowed no more than 50