The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Drug overdose pill for medicos

Antibiotics with antacids and expectorants, steroids for jaundice, vitamin enzymes for digestion…the list goes on.

Keen to curb “irrational drug use”, the state government has decided to take stern action against doctors who are accused of prescribing drugs that are unnecessary and cause more harm than good.

Flooded with complaints that doctors in city hospitals and those in private practice were regularly prescribing unnecessary drugs, the health department has urged all doctors to work in tandem with pharmacologists before prescribing any new drugs to patients. The government is also preparing a list of common drugs that are increasingly being misused.

Director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee said the government had decided to identify doctors who are prescribing drugs irrationally.

In a recent workshop on drug use, the director also urged pharmacologists to assist doctors in understanding the contraindications of new drugs. In Calcutta, doctors, especially general practitioners, heavily depend on medical representatives for opinion before administering drugs on patients.

The Indian Medical Association, too, has taken up the brief by deciding to educate doctors. “We receive complaints where doctors have prescribed antacids with antibiotics. This combination does not work and also diminishes the effect of the antibiotics. Doctors are also guilty of giving steroids for suspected jaundice,” joint secretary (headquarters) R.D. Dubey said on Saturday. The health department has also received complaints that doctors often prescribe steroids for asthma patients and liver tonics that do not work. Patients are asked to continue the dose, adding to the harm, officials say. “These so-called liver tonics have deposits of zinc, copper, manganese and selenium, which causes urological problems. The doctors are aware of this, but they want to oblige drug manufacturers,” said Dr Swapan Jana of the Society for Social Pharmacology.

Doctors are also said to be guilty of prescribing anti-coagulant injections and neurological drugs that have harmful side-effects. The drug control directorate has banned most of these medicines, but with the state government sitting idle, there was nothing to stop drug manufacturers pushing their products.

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