INDIA has banned the use of the antibiotic colistin on farms.

Last year it was revealed that the drug, which is categorised a medicine of last resort for humans, was freely available in the country as a growth promotor.

In 2015 a colistin-resistant gene was discovered that can confer resistance to bugs that have not been exposed to the drug – a first.

It was first found in China but has since been discovered on five continents.

The Ministry of Health issued a notification on Friday prohibiting the “manufacture, sale and distribution of the drug colistin and its formulations for food-producing animals, poultry, aqua farming and animal feed supplements” because such use is “likely to involve risk to human beings”.

That means the drug also cannot be used as a veterinary medicine for farm animals.

Colistin can still be prescribed on British farms to treat infections, although records indicate that it is rarely used.

Tim Walsh, a professor at Cardiff University said the ban “shows an element of commitment by the central Indian government, but whether this has any traction at state level or local level remains to be seen.

“But even if its impact is not what we might hope for, at least it’s adding to a message that we need to once and for all separate those drugs that we use in animals from those that we use in humans.”