PUTRAJAYA - The tendency of Malaysians to pop antibiotics as a quick fix to a range of ailments can lead to antimicrobial resistance that can kill.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the use of antibiotics among Malaysians was rising and the number of cases of antimicrobial resistance or AMR has increased steadily.
He warned that injudicious prescription of antibiotics can cause AMR, meaning that the drug may no longer provide remedial effect against the microorganism which caused the sickness concerned.
This meant that patients would face greater health costs, possibly even risk death, when their bodies failed to respond to the standard treatment of antibiotics when it was truly needed, he said after opening the Annual Scientific Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance 2012 here yesterday.
"A study in 2008 involving 82 public clinics and 17 private clinics showed that the antibiotic prescription rate for upper respiratory tract infection was 46.7 per cent among private primary care clinics and 27.8 per cent in public primary care clinics," Liow said.
"In our country, we are experiencing an increase in certain AMR cases, namely the extended-spectrum beta lactamase and the acinetobacter (bacteria types).
"My advice to patients is to not demand for antibiotics unless the doctors have diagnosed the need."
Liow said disciplinary action could be taken against pharmacists who sold antibiotics without a doctor's prescription.
Malaysian Pharmaceutical Soci-ety president Datuk Nancy Ho said the profession had seen cases of patients trying to "self-medicate" by requesting for antibiotics based on what they have read on the Internet.