CHENNAI: Oseltamivir, the drug of choice for treatment and chemoprophylaxis of swine flu or H1N1, has been stocked in over 10,000 private medical shops from Friday and also sufficient drugs are available in all government hospitals, said K Sivabalan, Director of Drugs Control.
Speaking to press on Friday, Sivabalan said, "The Health department instructed to make sure that there are adequate stocks of Oseltamivir drugs available in all pharmacies across the State. So, we instructed the private medical shop-owners to stock enough drugs. Also, the drug is available in all government hospitals free of cost," he added.
Oseltamivir is sold under brand name Tamiflu. It is an antiviral medication used to treat and prevent influenza A and Influenza B. Swine flu is caused by Influenza A Virus (H1N1). Sivabalan also held a meeting on the DMS campus with the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association and drug inspectors from Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts and instructed them to ensure availability of drugs.
However, pharmacists in Chennai said the demand for Oseltamivir has come down after the drug was made available in all shops," In October there was a demand in our shop because many pharmacies did not
stock the drugs. But, now in a week, we could sell a maximum of 10-15 strips. This is also because the drug is available in all stores," said T Nataraj, secretary,Chemists and Druggists Association, Chennai, who runs a medical shop at Adyar.
The general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association, K K Selvan, who runs a medical shop in Salem, said, "We could sell only two to three strips of Oseltamivir for 15 days or so at our shop in Salem. This was the case at most of our member pharmacists in the district," he added. The pharmacists said the drug costs Rs 500 to Rs 600 at private medical shops and it is available free of cost in all government hospitals. "Also, we give only if there is a medical prescription from the doctors," said Selvan.
Meanwhile, Sivabalan said the contact numbers of drug inspectors of all districts were available at the Tamil Nadu Drugs Control Department website's home page link www.drugscontrol.tn.gov.in and also Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association website www.tncda.com. So, in case Oseltamivir drug is not available in their area, people can call these officials and ask them to make arrangements. There were 17 deaths and over 1,500 swine flu cases reported so far across the state, according to the officials.