Almost all drugstores in Vietnam sell antibiotics without doctors’ prescriptions. Photo: Nghia Pham
A survey by the health ministry has found that misuse of antibiotics is rampant, with most pharmacies not requiring prescriptions to sell them.
The ministry’s Examination and Treatment Department said 98 percent of drugstores in urban areas and 91 percent in rural areas sell antibiotics without asking for a prescription.
Antibiotics account for 13.4 percent of their revenues in urban areas and 18.7 percent in rural areas, it said.
Besides, antibiotics are often prescribed unnecessarily by doctors, it said.
Checks at hospitals found they account for as much as 17 percent of medical expenses in the country, it added.
These practices have led to alarming antibiotic resistance in Vietnam, which has been listed by the World Health Organization among countries with the highest antibiotic-resistant infections.
Doctors at a conference in October said the country has seen an increase of superbugs that are resistant to powerful antibiotics and some of them are able to survive all available drugs.
Resistance rate to carbapenems, the strongest group of antibiotics, has risen to 50 percent, mostly by gram-negative bacteria, which have an impenetrable cell wall, and to third-generation cephalosporins, another powerful group of drugs, to more than 60 percent, doctors said.