Kerala to impose Colistin Import Ban

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Context: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued an order prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and distribution of colistin and its formulations for food-producing animals, poultry, aquafarming, and animal feed supplements.

  • COLISTIN is a critical antibiotic used to treat severe forms of bacterial infection.
  • The order directed manufacturers of colistin and its formulations (since it is also used to treat humans) to affix a label on the container.
  • Colistin is listed as the highest priority critically important antibiotic (HPCIA) in the WHO’s list of critically important antimicrobials for human medicine.
  • Being an HPCIA implies that colistin is the sole or one of the limited available therapies to treat serious bacterial infections in people.
  • Colistin is the last resort drug against multidrug-resistant gram-negative infections such as pneumonia and bacteremia in critically ill patients in intensive care units.
  • Recently WHO released AWaRe, an online tool aimed to ensure safer antibiotic use and reduce antimicrobial resistance (AMR). As part of this, colistin has been marked ‘Reserved’, meaning it should only be used as a last resort when all other antibiotics have failed.

Indian National Action Plan on AMR also aims to restrict and phase out non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials such as their use as growth promoters and disease prevention in animals. 


  • Use for non-therapeutic purposes in animals.
  • use for growth promotion (for example fattening of broiler poultry in less time and with less feed) as well as for preventing diseases in healthy animals.
  • Its excessive use in poultry has led to the development of colistin-resistant bacteria.


  • Need to conduct awareness programs for farmers, telling them about the danger of using colistin in the feed. Most are not aware of the presence of colistin since it comes mixed in the feed.

But, since the bulk of colistin (nearly 95%) is imported from China, it would also be easy to stop importing it within a short time.

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