Stopping medication without advice may trigger drug resistance, say doctors

Patients, though not advisable, stop taking the medicines or reduce the dosage of the medication after they start feeling better. Doing so is not only causing irreversible damage to their own body, but also to the public health. Recently, WHO had alerted about increasing trend of resistance to HIV drugs. Also, new strains have been identified in swine flu. According to WHO, globally, as many as 4,80,000 people develop multi-drug resistant to TB each year

Stopping medication without advice may trigger drug resistance, say doctors

Many patients stop taking the medicines or reduce the dosage of the medication after they start feeling better. Doing so, without doctor’s advice, is not only causing irreversible damage to their own body, but also to the public health at large. Infectious diseases such as TB, AIDS, Influenza (flu) etc. are increasingly becoming difficult to treat because the respective microbes are becoming resistant to the medication.

Recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had alerted about increasing trend of resistance to HIV drugs. Also, new strains have been identified in swine flu. On the other hand, TB is becoming more and more deadly because of its resistance to the drugs. One of the major factor for causing this hazard of microbial resistance is the inconsistency in consumption of medication. People not adhering to a prescribed treatment plan is triggering drug resistance of the microbes.

While talking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Tanu Singhal, specialist in Infectious Diseases explained why intake of inadequate medicines by the patients make it more difficult to treat a disease. “Inadequate dosage provides an opportunity to the microbes in the body to mutate. This phenomenon is applicable to the H1N1 virus as well. Patients should strictly follow the dosage given by doctors. They should not stop the medication on little signs of improvement in health,” she said.

Proper medication suppresses the microbes in the body. If the amount of medication goes down these microbes start to figure out a way to survive and ultimately it may result in mutation making them resistant to the drugs. “In the absence of medicines, viruses find a way to fight back. So, the chances of mutation are more likely in such cases. Microbes eventually learn how to survive the drug. Microbial drug resistance has become a major menace for public health,” informed Dr Shashikala Acharya, additional project director of Mumbai Districts AIDS Control Society (MDACS).

According to WHO, globally, as many as 4,80,000 people develop multi-drug resistant to TB each year. The countries with the largest number of MDR, RR-TB cases are China, India and Russia. They constitute around 45% of the total cases. It highlights the threat posed by drug resistant TB.

“If a drug is exposed to the particular set of microbes, it should be continued to consumed till the last microbe is killed. If it is stopped meanwhile, the remaining will learn a way to out power the drug. TB is no exception to it. To solve this problem, overuse of antibiotics should be avoided and the prescribed course of medication has to be followed by the patient,” said Dr Vikas Oswal, Pulmonologist in Chembur, Mumbai.