Topic of the Day – Carbapenems

UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – Carbapenems

The antibiotics used for the treating infections known to or suspected to be caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria are Carbapenems. Like the penicillins and cephalosporins, they are members of the beta lactam class of antibiotics, which kill bacteria by binding to penicillin-binding proteins and inhibiting cell wall synthesis. Their use is primarily in the people who are hospitalised and used for medicinal purposes for diseases like pneumonia, infections in the urinary tract, abdominal infections etc.

In India, resistance to antibiotics has been rising, primarily due to the indiscriminate use of antibiotics to treat even routine/ ordinary infections. It was also studied and established by Lord Jim O’Neill, an economist that India’s increasing drug-resistance infections could claim about million lives by the year 2050.

It was published in the journal; The Lancet Infectious Diseases that 13 billion units of antibiotics were consumed by the Indian population, highest in the world. The consumption went up by 40 per cent between 2005 and 2009.

To address the issue and highlight the danger of disproportionate use and misuse of antibiotics, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the much needed public awareness campaign called “Red line campaign”. The campaign was launched in 2016. Under the campaign, all the medicines that need prescription must be marked with a red line on the packet. It was launched with the intention to curb the overuse of the Medicines with the Red Line.

In 2017, a woman died post infection by a superbug during her visit to India. It was found that the bacteria was resistant and non-susceptible to all the antibiotics. That testing confirmed the presence of New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1), an enzyme that directly breaks down carbapenems, a powerful class of antibiotics that are often used to treat multidrug-resistant infections. The infection was caused by carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a multidrug-resistant organism associated with high mortality.


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