The Health Ministry has ordered a ban on using antibiotic Colistin in food-producing animals, poultry and aqua farms, in a move to curb the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in humans through animals here.
The Ministry, in its notification, has prohibited “with immediate effect” the manufacture, sale and distribution of Colistin and its formulations for this purpose. The Ministry has also directed manufacturers of Colistin to specify “in conspicuous manner” on the labels, package inserts and promotional literature that these products are “not to be used in food producing animals, poultry, aqua farming and animal feed supplements”.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Colistin is a “reserve” antibiotic, which means it is supposed to be considered a “last-resort” option in treatment and used only in the most severe circumstances, when all other alternatives have failed.
However, this strong antibiotic has been “highly misused” in India’s livestock industry to prevent diseases and as promote growth of such animals, said a senior Health Ministry official on condition of anonymity.
“One of the reasons for anti microbial resistance in India is due to unwanted use of Colistin in the poultry industry,” the official said, adding that the notification will help prevent this.
The development comes months after the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), India’s apex drug advisory body, recommended that the drug’s use be banned in animal farming industries.
A 2017 global study on antibiotic use in farm animals projected the consumption of antibiotics through animal sources to nearly double during 2013-2030.
This means India’s AMR problem is expected to worsen due to the consumption of antibiotics through animal sources.
The study ranked India the fourth largest consumer of antibiotics in food animals globally after China, the United States and Brazil.
AMR is “jeopardising” global health security and is of particular concern in countries like India, which has a high burden of infectious disease and requires antibiotics to limit morbidity and mortality, according to WHO.