Now, medicines of swine flu to be widely available

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 Aug 2017 10:56:05


Staff Reporter


The antiviral oseltamivir used to treat influenza H1N1 will be more widely available with the Union health ministry taking it off the stringent schedule X list. Now, patients will no longer need prescriptions in triplicate to buy the drug, but it would still not be available over the counter.

The state FDA communicated health ministry’s decision to chemists across the state urging them to immediately stock the antiviral medicine. Another drug to treat and prevent influenza zanamivir has also been withdrawn from the schedule X list that contains controlled substances and requires strict recordkeeping. Both oseltamivir and zanamivir will now come under schedule H1 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and can be stored by licensed chemists.

‘Now, patients will only need a prescription from a registered medical practitioner to buy the drugs. Unlike schedule X, chemists don’t have to maintain records or retain a copy of the prescription for three years for schedule H1 drugs,’ said one senior officer of the FDA Chhattisgarh. Oseltamivir was listed under schedule X since 2009 to prevent its misuse.

Of the 240 -odd chemists in the city, less than 30 had a schedule X licence, making it difficult for swine flu patients to procure the drug.
Till Sunday, oseltamivir was available only with select
retailers and shops on hospital premises.

Physician Dr RK Dewangan pointed out that the antiflu tablets were hard to come by since the disease saw a spurt in last week of July across state as five patients were detected of it in the district. ‘Patients have to scout at least a dozen shops. Why should an influenza medicine be so difficult to purchase?”

Most of the doctors as well as health personnel were of the view that it is a good initiative as already there is a shortage of tamiflu and other important vaccines of swine flu in all community health centres and primary health centres of the state. So this will help patients to get the medicine from private medical shops and do not face any problems owing to shortage of medicines related to swine flu in public hospitals.

Some distributors said there was a shortage of the syrup form of antiviral, which is mainly prescribed for children. Sunil Sharma, proprietor of chemist shops in Durg, said Tamiflu was in short supply, but not unavailable.
A senior official of health department said the likelihood of a drug shortage due to increased demand was already flagged to FDA last week.