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Updated: December 20, 2013 23:31 IST

Ban over-the-counter sale of antibiotics, says Venki Ramakrishnan

Special Correspondent
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Nobel laureate Venkataraman Ramakrishnan checks his laptop, even as CCMB Director Ch. Mohan Rao looks on at the venue of the Distinguished Lecture Series on 'Antibiotics and the Cell’s Protein Factory, in Hyderabad on Friday. - Photo: K. Ramesh Babu
THE HINDU Nobel laureate Venkataraman Ramakrishnan checks his laptop, even as CCMB Director Ch. Mohan Rao looks on at the venue of the Distinguished Lecture Series on 'Antibiotics and the Cell’s Protein Factory, in Hyderabad on Friday. - Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

This will prevent their misuse and control infections, says Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who was in the city to deliver a lecture at CCMB

Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has preferred a ban on over-the-counter sale of antibiotics in a bid to prevent their misuse and control infections.

Replying to questions at a press conference after he delivered the first of the CCMB Distinguished Lecture Series on ‘Antibiotics and the Cell’s Protein Factory’ here on Friday, he said antibiotics should be given by the pharmacist on the basis of a prescription by a doctor or a qualified health professional. With over-the-counter availability of antibiotics, people would be mistreating themselves.

Besides, those taking them tend to stop once they feel better. Unless the full course was taken, those using them would develop resistance, he pointed out.

Coordinated efforts

In addition to promoting rationale use of antibiotics, the Nobel laureate suggested coordinated efforts in regard to controlling and preventing infections, including good public health system and preventive medicine. Preventive healthcare was more cost-effective than treating a person after he or she develops a disease.

“It is the job of the government to protect its people,” he added.

He said drug discovery was very expensive and involved a long process. With many of the infectious diseases being the problem of developing countries, Prof. Venkatraman suggested that non-profit organisations and government could fund research for development of new antibiotics as the current model of private companies from West to treat the diseases was not ideal.

Funds crunch stymieing research

Asked if research in India was on par with global standards, he said the standard of research in some regional universities was not up to international standards as they faced the problem of under-funding. While funds were essential, hierarchy and cronyism was not conducive for good science.

To another question on why Indian scientists were not in the race for Nobel Prize, he said there was a difference between doing good work and world leading work. These things don’t happen from nothing to Nobel Prize. He felt that more Indians should get elected to Royal Societies and pointed out that cutting edge science would require a network of top notch institutions.

On the possibility of him collaborating with CCMB, he said, “I am a working scientist and my primary loyalty is to my students and post-docs.”

He said collaborations would work when both sides brought something to the partnership and it would be fruitful.

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