Centre may release Tamiflu in retail market


A 10-year-old boy receives a shot of a trial vaccine for the H1N1 flu in the US city of Annapolis on Thursday. With flu's favourite chilly weather fast approaching, the US is girding for the return of the flu. The doctor’s mantra until the vaccine arrives in October is: wash your hands, sneeze into your elbow, stay home so you don't spread illness when you're sick. AP

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is believed to have approved an official notification allowing Tamiflu’s retail sell earlier this week.  However, the notification has not yet been issued and there is no official confirmation.

The medicine is expected to be released as a Schedule X drugs, sales of which are governed by strict conditions like obtaining two sets of prescriptions from a doctor and obtaining a special license for the distributor and retailer. 

Typically psychotropic drugs are sold as Schedule-X medicines. While the patient keeps one prescription, the second set is handed over to the retailer who maintains a log book on the sale of Schedule-X medicines. The log book is periodically checked by the authorities. Only a handful of distributors and retailers—may be four to five retail shops in a metro city—have licences to sell Schedule-X drugs. However, when asked if the government plans to release Tamiflu in the retail market, R K Srivastava, director-general of the health services in the Union health ministry, ruled out any such move on Thursday.

The Centre has not released Tamiflu in the retail market so far apprehending its abuse which can lead to the H1N1 virus’s resistance to the medicine. If the virus returns in a virulent form in the winter drug resistance will be a bane for thousands. But the entry of private diagnostics centre and hospitals to detect and treat swine flu may have prompted the government to take a decision on releasing Tamiflu in the retail market.

Toll reaches 93

A(H1N1) influenza continued its surge with four more people, including a three-year-old child, dying of the pandemic, taking the nationwide toll due to the deadly virus to 93 even as 139 fresh cases were detected on Friday across the country.
The deadly contagion claimed three lives in Karnataka with two dying in Bangalore and one in Bijapur. A another person succumbed to the virus at Nasik in Maharashtra.
A 39-year-old swine flu patient, identified as M Shaikh, who was undergoing treatment at MGM Hospital in Navi Mumbai for the last ten days and was shifted to D Y Patil Hospital in the same area, died on Thursday night, a health official said.

Maharashtra, the worst-hit state, now accounts for 47 fatalities—25 in Pune, 10 in Mumbai, eight in Nasik, two in Aurangabad and one each in Dhule and Latur—whereas 23 people have died in Karnataka.

Seven have died in Gujarat, three each in Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, two in Uttarakhand and one each in Kerala, Goa, Rajasthan and Haryana. The flu spurt continued across the country with 139 fresh cases of the viral disease being detected on Friday, bringing the number of those infected with the disease to 3,534, Health Ministry officials said.

The virus is affecting people in the 14 to 44 age bracket more and late reporting for treatment is the reason for most of the deaths, they said. Director-General of Health Services R K Srivastava, quoting a survey by the Ministry, said that instances of death occurred when people infected by the virus reported for proper treatment five days or more after the symptoms surfaced.

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