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20 July 2006

Chinese Hospitals Over-Prescribe Antibiotics To Generate Income

BEIJING, June 30 -- Health experts have called for more attention to be paid to the proper prescription of medicines, in particular the use of antibiotics.

"China has a very serious problem of antibiotics abuse, especially antibacterial injection," said Professor Yang Yonghong of Beijing Children's Hospital, during the International Pediatric Pharmacology Symposium currently being held in Shanghai.

"About 90 per cent of patients with common colds first use antibiotics," said Yang. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses such as common colds.

"The improper use (of antibiotics) will result in development of drug resistance, more side effects, increased medical expenses and a huge burden for parents," said Professor Wang Daiming of Shanghai Children's Hospital of Fudan University.

Yang also revealed that resistance against the antibiotic erythromycin has increased to as high as 90 per cent among pneumococcal pneumonia patients.

During the symposium, Yang presented a nationwide survey on antibiotics consumption in five children's hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangzhou since 2000.

The survey showed the use of antibiotics in hospitals has continued to increase, with the misuse of antibiotics for non-infectious diseases common.

Early this year, China Association of Medicine revised the guidelines for antibiotics use in medical institutions nationwide.

In some hospitals like Shanghai Children's Hospital, antibiotics have been classified and the prescription rights are given to doctors of various levels.

However, the measure is unlikely to have much impact on antibiotics abuse as the source of the problem remains in China's medical system: Hospitals rely too much on income from selling medicines.

The survey showed that medicine sales accounted for around half of total income.

Antibiotics accounted for 43 to 50 per cent of all income from sales of Western drugs in the five hospitals.

China Daily

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