The government is planning on the revival of Penicillin in a bid to fight against drug resistance and to tackle rheumatic heart disease. Penicillin is one of the oldest antibiotics known to man and is still effective in many cases as not many organisms have developed resistance to it yet. According to an Indian Express report citing sources, Penicillin went out of production in India as a result of unrealistic price control. It also suggested that the government is planning to procure Penicillin centrally for a minimum of three years and give it to all children aged between 5 years to 15 years suffering from a sore throat, at least once. It was reported that the drug will be dispensed through primary health centres or administered by ASHAs.
A committee comprising of the officials from the department of health research has been formed to finalise a plan to tackle rheumatic fever and heart disease burden and revive penicillin.
In a report published on Monday, a senior health ministry official told The Indian Express that they are working on devising a plan to deal with rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease load. It added that the govt is also trying to revive penicillin availability because it is the cheapest option for treating patients suffering from rheumatic fever. Various options are being explored and worked upon, including talking to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to take it off the price control list. Also, in order to kick-start production, plans of procuring the medicine centrally are being looked upon, as per the report. The procurement will be done to obtain enough stock for three years. This will encourage the manufacturers to restart production, the official told IE.
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First discovered in 1928, Penicillin is still the first-line antibiotic in many western countries. The antibiotics gradually went out of the Indian market, but some of its more expensive derivatives are still prescribed.
Studies based on population indicate that as many as 2 out of 1,000 people get affected by Rheumatic Heart Disease in India. However, a survey conducted among school children in the age group of 5 to 16 years by ICMR suggested an overall prevalence of 6/1000.
The adviser to the Ministry of Health Dr Arun Singh told IE that Penicillin is among the oldest antibiotics and in many western countries it is still used as the first line of antibiotic treatment and in India, the antibiotic has almost gone out of the market because of price control issues. Penicillin manufacturers stopped making the drug as a result of extremely low prices, Singh told IE.
Rheumatic fever is endemic in India. It remains to be one of the major causes of the cardiovascular disease which accounts for nearly 25 to 45 per cent of acquired heart disease. Though, not all sore throats become rheumatic fever with severe joint pain or end up in rheumatic heart disease. Rheumatic heart disease is a condition in which the heart is affected by a disease that eventually leaves no option but to replace the heart valves. However, doctors say, it is better to give an antibiotic dose and narrow down the possibility of rheumatic fever or rheumatic heart disease.