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    Thursday, May 4, 2017

    Rivers in India with antibiotics

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    Antibiotics from German pharmacies can cause a major problem in their production in emerging markets: sewage from production in India is suspected as a possible source for the global spread of resistant germs.

    Large antibiotic factories in India could contribute to the development of multi-resistant bacteria by lack of wastewater treatment. Research by NDR, WDR and Süddeutscher Zeitung at the Indian pharmacy town Hyderabad, presented by Norddeutsche Rundfunk on Thursday in Berlin,

    Afterwards, samples of water taken in November 2016 in the immediate vicinity of pharmacists' factories showed a concentration of residues of antibiotics and fungi as well as a hundred times or even a thousand times higher than previously proposed in German limits.

    Bacteria developed bacteria in a short period of time against antibiotics, explained Arne Rodloff, microbiologist at the University Hospital Leipzig. The resistant pathogens could enter the human body via direct contact with this water or via the food chain, for example the intestine, the Leipzig infection researcher Christoph Lübbert added.

    "Bioreactor under the open sky"

    This could lead to the fact that common antibiotics no longer attack infections and patients die in the worst case. Lübbert called the cloaca, which he saw in Hyderabad near the factories, a "bioreactor under the open sky" and added: "This is a globalization of the pathogens."

    Resistance training is not only for the Indian population, but also for travelers as a problem. Many tourists in India returned with multi-resistant bacteria, which they had not previously, according to the television documentation. It will be broadcast in the ARD on the following Monday (22:45) under the title "The Invisible Enemy - Deadly Superherer from Pharmafabriken".

    The scientists interviewed or involved in the documentation do not want to do pure "India bashing". For example, there is a lack of regulations in the area in Europe. Although medicines are tested for quality prior to import into the EU, inspectors will not even consider environmental aspects in the production countries.

    Gröhe demands better industrial and environmental standards

    The accusation of environmental pollution caused by drug production in emerging markets has already been raised several times, said Rolf Hömke, spokesman of the Association of Research Drug Drugs, on Thursday at the request of the German Press Agency. Deficits are possible. The companies of the association had agreed last September on measures to trace production. In the coming years suppliers from emerging countries, for example, should also be examined for environmental issues. However, not all German pharmaceutical companies have signed this agreement.

    Federal Ministry of Health, Hermann Gröhe (CDU) believes that industrial and environmental standards are also needed. "The fact that companies are not allowed to contaminate the water with dangerous substances must be valid in general," he said on Thursday. "It is imperative that pharmaceutical companies process their wastewater appropriately, even in emerging markets." International bodies in the economic and environmental sectors would have to work towards this.

    Fritz Sörgel from the Institute for Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Research sees this as a suitable platform for the G-20 summit in Hamburg in July. "There is urgent need to be done," says Tim Eckmanns, infection researcher at the Robert Koch Institute. "This certainly does not solve the problem of resistance, but it is a point." He would also consider a health screening after traveling to India to be superior.

    Price competition favors poor production conditions

    The authors of the documentation see the reasons for the production conditions abroad also in the price competition on the pharmaceutical market. In order to offer antibiotics as cost-effectively as possible, 80 to 90 percent of the production is carried out in countries such as India or China. One of the last major European plants in Frankfurt-Hoechst stopped production in 2016, said NDR author Christian Baars.

    In India, the researchers' concerns came up with criticism. "It is nonsense to correlate industrial wastewaters with the transfer of resistant bacteria to humans," said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Managing Director of the Think Tanks Center for Science and the Environment (CSE) in New Delhi. The phenomenon of resistant bacteria exists worldwide. "The US is the largest consumer of antibiotics, where antibiotics are found in every product of chicken meat."

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