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Stifling the super microbes

/ 07:51 PM October 14, 2011

Nature has its own, long way of evolving microbes and germs. Humans, however, seem to have unwittingly found ways of accelerating the process.

The reckless use of antibiotics, either erroneously prescribed by a doctor or by a patient who self-medicates, as well as the improper dosage of medications can help strengthen a harmful microbe or germ to a point that it resists one or more known standard treatments.

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This was what Dr. Amado I. Nazal, medical director of Pharex Health Corp, announced during the Oct. 7 press conference and launch of the “Masunurin Advocacy Campaign.”

The press conference called for the public’s compliance to prescribed medications, which Pharex executives claimed would be key to combat antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance has been attributed to the inappropriate use of antibiotics or antimicrobial drugs.

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Cause of drug resistance

Pharex, makers of generic medicines, enumerated the causes of antimicrobial resistance: when a patient takes inappropriate doses or does not finish a prescribed course of treatment; when a patient uses low-quality medicines, or follows a wrong prescription, and; poor infection control. Either one or a combination of these may cause a microbe or germ to become drug-resistant.

Nazal cited a study which showed that 22.3 percent of the Philippine population, or 1 out of 5, would not follow doctors’ prescriptions. Then he revealed that in the Philippine General Hospital alone, there has already been a 63-percent incidence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) among patients.

At the press conference, Tomas Marcelo Agana III, president of Pharex Health Corp., presented the pocket-sized foil pack— Pharex Masunurin Value Pack—a five-day treatment program for mild to moderate infections.

He explained that the company’s first-line antibiotics Amoxicillin, Cefalexin, Ciprofloxacin and Cloxacillin have been repackaged in a specially designed foil pack to make adherence to antimicrobial therapy easier and more convenient. The price of the Masunurin Value Pack, he added, would be 25 to 50 percent lower than the regular selling price of the products.

When asked if the Masunurin campaign could result in the public’s “blind obedience” to antibiotics and create an impression that patients need not feel obliged to know more about the medications they are taking and its possible side effects, Agana countered, “The trend now is that if some of the more senior doctors with advanced practice don’t feel comfortable with patients who ask a lot, the younger ones are willing to sit with patients and family members who are informed. They (young doctors) are more prepared to hurdle the informed patients,” he said.

Nazal added that Pharex, through its value pack, is encouraging the rational use of antibiotics and prescription of mild antibiotics first, before resorting to stronger treatments.

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Drug resistance

Antimicrobial resistance or drug resistance occurs when microorganisms change in ways that render medications ineffective. Though not a new problem, antimicrobial resistance is a growing cause of global concern as infections resistant to antimicrobials have been noted to cause deaths, greater suffering and disability, and higher healthcare costs.

Antimicrobials—the umbrella term for antibiotics and similar drugs—are medicines used to treat infections caused by microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. Antimicrobials include antibiotics, chemotherapeutic agents, antifungals, antiparasitic medicines and antivirals.

Nonadherence to prescribed antimicrobial medication can be fatal, according to the Pharex group. Since harmful bacteria remain in the body, the microbes develop resistance against any antimicrobial medication and may cause recurrence of infection or complications in the treatment of infectious diseases in the future.

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