In Indian hospitals, over 50% of bacterial infections are now resistant to commonly used antibiotics. Surveys have shown that many widespread pathogens in India are also resistant to powerful, broad-spectrum antibiotics. In 2010, a team of scientists analyzed bacterial infections in New Delhi and found that 24% could resist the hospital’s last resort intravenous antibiotics, carbapenems, and 13% had a super-resistant gene, New Delhi metallo-ß-lactamase 1 (NDM-1), that conferred resistance to carbapenems and 14 other antibiotics.
New drugs have been in development to treat microbes with the NDM-1 gene. In the West, gram-positive bacteria, which are structurally vulnerable to antibiotics and disinfectants, are most common while in the India and other tropical countries, there tend to be gram-negative bacteria, which have a tougher outer membrane that can repel antibiotics. Since most of the pharmacological industry develops drugs for the Western markets, India is vulnerable to an epidemic.
Antibiotic use is unchecked, so the drugs themselves are overused, which is one of the causes of drug-resistant bacteria. Patients do not need a prescription to get antibiotics.
For now, NDM-1 bacteria need to gain more notoriety so that the state will do something before there is an outbreak.