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Beijing curbs antibiotic addiction anioverdose

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By Deng Jingyin

BEIJING, Nov. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Beijing authorities will launch a citywide campaign to regulate the overuse of antibiotics in public hospitals from tomorrow to the end of this year, a move to ensure safe medical practices.

The overuse of antibiotics causes many of the drugs to become ineffective, which means drug-resistant infections may develop, such as MRSA, known as the "superbug." If hospitals fail the assessment, their ranking may be downgraded, which may affect the hospital's reputation.

Beijing Municipal Health Bureau revealed they will evaluate antibiotic use in 165 second and third-class hospitals, the Beijing Times reported.

"We'll check the types and doses of antibiotics hospitals use. Hospitals which fail won't be able to participate in hospital grade assessments," said Ma Yanming, the bureau's spokesperson.

"We'll publish the results of the checks early next year," Ma said.

Chinese hospitals are divided into three grades, first, second and third-class, according to their medical reputation, size, and medical skills of their doctors. Their medical fees also vary.

Mao Yu, deputy director of the bureau, said hospitals that overuse antibiotics will be downgraded. Prescription records will be used to check hospitals' antibiotic usage, he said.

The Health Ministry has finished soliciting public opinions about the updated regulations for clinical application for antibiotics. The regulation will limit the number and type of antibiotics to be used, and also regulate the types of disease antibiotics can be prescribed for. Fewer than 60 out of 100 inpatients can receive antibiotic treatment, the regulation says.

"The regulation will demand that medical institutions set their own caps on antibiotic use for both outpatients and inpatients," Xiao Yonghong, an expert with the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology from Peking University, told Xinhua News Agency last month.

China faces criticism in the overuse of antibiotics and Chinese medical experts also warned that antibiotics have been "heavily overused" at hospitals.

Per capita average annual consumption of antibiotics in China is 138 grams, 10 times greater that in the US, Xiao said.

According to a report from the Health Ministry, the average dose of penicillin each Chinese person takes annually is three times higher than the international level, Xinhua said.

The report also pointed out that 70 out of 100 Chinese inpatients have received antibiotics, while the maximum number the World Health Organization sets is only 30.

About 97 percent of patients in the surgical department in China used antibiotics but research showed that a large number of surgical patients would not need antibiotics if hospitals conducted proper sanitation measures, the ministry report said.

Antibiotics are also overused in the treatment of children. Yang Yonghong, a doctor at Beijing Children's Hospital, told Xinhua that nearly one third of outpatients at that hospital are given intravenous drips containing antibiotics.

"I always found antibiotics in the prescriptions for my daughter. Although I know it's not good for children, I think I'd better obey the doctor's instruction," said Maggie Zhang, a Beijing resident with a 4-year-old daughter.

Experts said that abuse of antibiotics may enhance drug resistance, resulting in ineffective treatment in the future.

"Some doctors might lack proper training on how to apply antibiotics in a more precise way and avoid potential risks. Some simply want to play it safe," said Zhu Zhenggang, president of the Shanghai-based Ruijin Hospital.

"You may be helping a dormant virus mutate into a more lethal killer. Since patients see a faster effect, some doctors use antibiotics in treatment," said Wang Shan, president of the Peking University People's Hospital.

"The price of antibiotics is much higher than normal drugs, so we can't deny that some doctors favor antibiotics due to the 'commercial interest.'" He refused to explain further what "commercial interest means."

Wang said his hospital uses an IT system to monitor antibiotic usage.

"The superbug is a good example for us, if we continue to overuse antibiotics, in the end, we'll have no drugs to use," he noted.



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