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India Requires Antibiotic Rehab


A recent European poultry publication highlighted the extensive misuse of antibiotics in India.  This nation already has a problem of drug-resistant human pathogens including multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, gonorrhea and staphyloccosis, mainly due to inappropriate training of medical practitioners as well as free access to drugs some of which are of questionable potency.

In the livestock sector antibiotics are used routinely to compensate for deficiencies in biosecurity, vaccination and appropriate management.


Investigations carried out by the World Health Organization documented the extensive use of colistin (polymyxin E) in India. Uncontrolled and extensive administration of this drug to poultry flocks and swine herds in China has resulted in the emergence of the mcr-1gene which enables pathogens to resist a number of antibiotics of human health significance.  Colistin is regarded as an antibiotic of last resort in human medicine to treat infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria.


What is significant is the fact that in India the drug is distributed by the VH Group (Venky’s) a franchisee of a multinational primary breeder and a manufacturer of biologics and pharmaceuticals.  The fact that a leading and presumably ethical veterinary company is involved in chasing rupees by selling antibiotics indiscriminately is a reflection on the ethics of management and characterizes the low concern by CEO Anuradha Desai for public health.


It was an incidental observation that at the 2018 IPPE, many of the exhibitors from China listed colistin as available products.  One company even offered fipronil!


If India aspires to be an exporter of eggs and poultry meat it will have to curb antibiotic use and adopt alternatives which include sound management practices, improved housing, biosecurity and immunization.  It would appear that the domestic industry continues to rely on antibiotics but more recently the inclusion of botanicals and pixie dust in the face of avian influenza, mycoplasmosis and combinations of viral respiratory infections.