Anti-antibiotics campaign is needed in Russia

Russian authorities claim they want to decrease antibiotic use both in veterinary and healthcare systems but any changes have been delayed either because of the cost to the federal treasury, potentially amounting to billions of rubles, or because local businesses do not welcome these changes.

Anti-antibiotics campaign is needed in RussiaOn 3 December 2019, a draft bill titled On Biological Safety was submitted to the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament. That regulation called for enhanced government control of antibiotic consumption in the country in order to combat antibiotic resistance, according to Leonid Ogul, chairman of the State Duma’s healthcare committee.“Among other things, the draft bill brings together all of the measures that call for decreasing antibiotic resistance. It prohibits pharmacies from selling [some] antibiotics without prescriptions from physicians and prohibits physicians from administering antibiotics without a confirmed diagnosis,” Ogul said. “As of today, over-the-counter sales of most antibiotics are already prohibited in Russia,” Ogul continued, adding that he hoped that with the adoption of the new law, all pharmacies would begin complying with the requirement.Yet, despite that, analysts don’t believe the authorities are eager to enforce measures aimed at dealing with antibiotic resistance and superbugs. The law, if adopted, would simply bring together all of the rules contained in a dozen other regulations but there would be no new rules. More importantly, nothing new would be done to improve enforcement of these rules. Today, almost all antibiotics can be easily purchased over-the-counter in Russia.“Despite the legal prohibition against selling antibiotics overthe- counter [in Russia], the fact is that everybody can buy them anywhere and whenever needed,” said Vitaly Zverev, director of the Moscow-based Mechnikov’s Research Institute of Vaccines and Serums. “I’ve checked this myself. I bought them in pharmacies without a prescription. And if a patient takes antibiotics without physician supervision, what happens then? He takes the drug for a day or two and stops at the first signs of improvement. The disease returns and so he starts over again. This is where the resistance comes from.”An opinion poll conducted by the Russian consumer rights and human well-being watchdog Rospotrebnadzor showed that most Russian citizens purchase antibiotics frequently, using them without hesitation. 44% of respondents said that they were buying antibiotics without visiting physicians, 26% said that they would terminate therapy at the first signs of improvements, and 67% expressed confidence that a common cold could be treated with antibiotics. Those findings were in line with the results of earlier research showing that Russians used to treat everything from diarrhea and rash to different types of viruses with antibiotics.Almost all analysts agree that antibiotic consumption in Russia is a serious problem. The existing regulations are weak and they are regularly violated both by pharmacies and physicians. “Antibiotic resistance comes from unsupervised short-term therapy. Despite the prohibition against selling antibiotics over-the-counter, they can still be bought in pharmacies. People self-administer antibiotics when they have a health issue and quite often they do it incorrectly,” said Vladimir Nikiforov, PhD, Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Mo

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