Pune, 16th October 2022: Azithromycin was used widely during the pandemic. The antibiotic, part of a class of drugs called macrolide, is very popular in the pharma market. But was it used unnecessarily, or was it effective against the virus? Experts have two different opinions regarding the use of Azithromycin in treating coronavirus.
Some studies have shown Azithromycin worked well for covid treatment. Azithromycin is commonly used for respiratory tract infections, skin infections, ear infections, pneumonia, and other types of infections. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria. When covid spread, no specific line of treatment was available as the virus was a new strain. However, the line of treatment was later decided by medical experts. It included antiviral, immunomodulators, hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and Azithromycin. They were considered potential therapeutic options. Azithromycin has always shown results in viral pneumonia, such as influenza and lung infection – this leads to the use of Azithromycin as a drug for routine covid treatment. Beyond its antibacterial activity, this antibiotic has shown antiviral activity against rhinovirus. Azithromycin was recommended for treating mild covid infection. Another advantage of Azithromycin is that it is inexpensive, safe, and widely available. The drug was already a popular antibiotic in the Indian pharma market, and covid increased its sale. But, was Azithromycin effective in the treatment of covid?
Multiple studies concluded that Azithromycin was not effective against the virus. Various respiratory tract infections do not require antibiotics, but they are heavily used. It is a matter of concern. Still, the drug is indiscriminately used in many parts of India for home-isolated patients with mild covid symptoms. Antibiotics, however strong, are ineffective in treating viral infections. Many experts believe Azithromycin should be prescribed only for bacterial infections, not viral infections.
The use of antibiotics in India is a matter of concern. During the pandemic, sales of antibiotics, especially Azithromycin, boosted rapidly, showing how individuals used drugs to self-medicate inappropriately. Azithromycin is an efficient antibiotic with good results. It is highly effective against a wide range of bacterial infections. But, are we doing justice to these antibiotics is the question we should ask ourselves. Questions regarding the response of antibiotics to the body in the future are fundamental as we use these drugs for infectious issues. Resistance to antibiotics will seriously affect the human body. Institutes and experts can not discover antibiotics overnight. The only way to keep them effective is purely in our hands.
Remember, covid was a viral infection. Experts were able to discover new vaccinations quickly. But what will happen if a bacterial infection arises in the future and antibiotics do not work on them because of resistance? The Lancet study has said Indians use more Azithromycin and ofloxacin than required. The indiscriminate use of antibiotics will be a crucial reason for drug resistance.
(Shriniwas Jadhav has completed B.Pharma degree with first class from Appasaheb Birnale College of Pharmacy, Sangli (Shivaji University Kolhapur). He has experience of around 15 years in pharma marketing and pharma production.)