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July 28, 2011

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Poll: Drug knowledge lacking

THE vast majority of Shanghai residents still have no idea of the serious consequences of antibiotic abuse, local health authorities said yesterday.

According to a survey carried out by the Shanghai Health Promotion Commission, nearly 90 percent of the interviewees knew little about antibiotics, and 75 percent didn't know how to use them properly.

The survey, taken in March, covered residents from all of the city's 16 districts and Chongming County, in the form of a questionnaire.

"The survey found that many people use the medicines by themselves when they think they catch infectious diseases, which actually is very dangerous," said Li Zhongyang, deputy director of the commission.

The drugs can have various side effects, and overuse can lead to damage to the liver and kidneys, health officials said.

Some people said they tended to use antibiotics under friends' or families' advice rather than a doctor's, Li added.

About half of the inter-viewees said they tried to buy antibiotics from drug stores even when they weren't sick, just to have them in case of illness. Antibiotics are prescribed drugs, which means people can legally buy them only with a doctor's prescription. Nevertheless, some pharmacies will sell them without a prescription on a case-by-case basis.

This year officials intend to take more action. One of them will involve local Food and Drug Administration officials inspecting drug stores to prevent illegal sales. Health officials will also deliver lectures on antibiotics at neighborhood communities and spread flyers in hospitals.

"People need to learn many things," Li said. "Many of them don't even know they should be alcohol free in the period of taking antibiotics."

According to new regulations taking effect this month, city-level hospitals should offer no more than 50 types of antibiotics.

District-level hospitals are permitted to use only 35 types of the drugs.

"About 60 percent of people enjoying medical insurance use antibiotics, according to our investigation on local hospitals," Li said.

At the end of last month, however, local hospitals were using almost three times as many types of antibiotics than will be permitted under the new regulations.

Fifty types of antibiotics are enough for clinical requirements as they can kill almost all known bacteria, according to the Shanghai Health Bureau.

Ni Yuxing, an infection expert at Ruijin Hospital, said hospitals may choose the antibiotics they want.


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