Exclusive Q&A With : Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan, VP for research and policy at the Public Health Foundation of India
Updated on: 23 Jun 2016
Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan, vice-president for research and policy at the Public Health Foundation of India, has worked with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on diseases getting resistant to antibiotics. He talks to Priyadarshini Sen about what the post-antibiotic era might look like. Excerpts from the interview:
Do you see a time when the efficacy of antibiotics will cease?
This is not just a possibility, it is most likely to happen. The quantity of antibiotics that is being used—in both animals and humans—is increasing over time and the consequences of this increased selection pressure will be that, over a period of time, the drugs will work less effectively.
Why are antibiotics being prescribed and used so indiscriminately in India and across the world?
There is little incentive for anyone to do the right thing. For a single patient, their urgency is to get an antibiotic in the hope that it will work. The impact on the rest of society is not important to that patient or physician. This problem is known as the "tragedy of the commons". No single entity has an incentive to care and this is the reason why antibiotics are different from other drugs. If I misuse a cancer drug, that does not affect anyone else. But if I do so with an antibiotic, it does.
Where does India stand in the global context on this antibiotics problem?