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Fluoroquinolone antibiotics: Prescribe only as last resort, says UK regulator

51app 2024; 384 doi: (Published 24 January 2024) Cite this as: 51app 2024;384:q183

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Re: Fluoroquinolone antibiotics: Prescribe only as last resort, says UK regulator

Dear Editor

I am writing to bring to your attention a concerning trend in medical practice, particularly in India, regarding the over-prescription of fluoroquinolone antibiotics for conditions such as diarrhea. This issue has recently gained prominence due to the UK regulator's advisory, emphasizing the need to reserve fluoroquinolones as a last resort in treatment protocols.

Fluoroquinolones, while effective in combating bacterial infections, come with a host of serious side effects that cannot be overlooked. These include tendon ruptures, nerve damage, and even long-lasting disabling conditions. The UK regulator's cautionary stance highlights the gravity of these risks and underscores the importance of judicious use.

In India, however, private practitioners frequently prescribe fluoroquinolones as a first-line treatment for diarrhea and other common ailments. This practice is alarming, as it not only exposes patients to unnecessary risks but also contributes to the growing global threat of antibiotic resistance. Fluoroquinolone misuse can lead to the development of resistant bacterial strains, making infections harder to treat and posing a significant public health challenge.

Moreover, the indiscriminate use of fluoroquinolones in India could exacerbate another pressing issue: malaria resistance. With India being a high-burden country for malaria, the misuse of fluoroquinolones can compromise the effectiveness of chloroquine, a key antimalarial drug. Undiagnosed cases of malaria, treated with fluoroquinolones instead of appropriate antimalarials, could potentially fuel the development of chloroquine-resistant strains, further complicating malaria management efforts.

It is imperative that healthcare professionals in India reconsider their prescribing practices and adhere to evidence-based guidelines that advocate for the prudent use of antibiotics. Additionally, greater awareness among the public regarding the risks associated with fluoroquinolones is crucial to prevent their indiscriminate use.

In conclusion, I urge policymakers, healthcare providers, and the public in India to recognize the serious consequences of fluoroquinolone misuse and take immediate steps to address this issue. By doing so, we can safeguard both individual patient health and public health interests in the long run.

Sincerely,

Competing interests: No competing interests

19 February 2024
Pushpendra Magon
Paediarician
punjab institute of medical sciences
Garha Rd