Swine Flu threat: Shortage of Tamiflu in Mumbai

Chemists say the shortage has been persistent since many days. One of the reasons behind the shortage is some pharmaceutical distributors are avoiding keeping Tamiflu because of its high rate

Shortage of Tamiflu drug in Mumbai can increase swine flu risk

Mumbai has seen an alarming rise in the number of the swine flu cases in July. According to data released by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), five deaths due to swine flu and 250 cases of swine flu have been reported in Mumbai until July 15.

On the backdrop of this, there is a huge shortage of Tamiflu tablet which has been proven effective in the tackling the disease. The state Health Minister Dr Deepak Sawant had asked doctors to prescribe Tamiflu tablets to patients if a fever is over 100 degrees for more than a day without waiting for the lab to confirm the test. Also, all chemist shops were granted permission to dispense Tamiflu to control swine flu.

“We have been notified that a schedule H1 license holder chemist can sell Tamiflu. Earlier only schedule X license holder could dispense it. But there is a mismatch in the supply and demand of Tamiflu. Chemists are reporting that they are not receiving the tablets of Tamiflu in adequate proportion. They are not receiving its stock,” said Prasad Danve, President, Retail and Dispensing Chemist Association Mumbai.

The manager of National Chemist located near KEM Hospital confirmed the shortage of the tablet and said that the shortage has been persistent since many days. One of the reasons behind the shortage is some pharmaceutical distributors are avoiding keeping Tamiflu because of its high rate. “We don’t keep Tamiflu at all.  I am aware of few distributors who are not keeping Tamiflu. It is more expensive than other drugs. So we are avoiding its stock,” said Milan Savla, Director M.D.X. Distributors Pvt. Ltd, in Dadar.

To tackle this problem, doctors are prescribing Oseltamivir the component name of the drug rather than specifying the brand name. “Other drugs which are available in the market have the component which Tamiflu has. So, if there is the shortage of Tamiflu other drugs containing the component can also be used. That’s why doctors are prescribing the component,” said Dr Shivkumar Utture,Treasurer, Indian Medical Association (Maharashtra).

“We are facing the shortage of Tamiflu since many days but this shortage is compensated with other tablets so that the patients are not affected,” My Medical Mantra was informed by a person working at a chemists shop in KEM hospital.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Maharashtra Commissioner Dr Pallavi Darade told My Medical Mantra that all the necessary measures have been taken to ensure that the every patient in the state gets the medicine to cure swine flu. FDA had asked all the divisional Joint Commissioners to review the availability of the medicine.

Meanwhile, Dr Darade has requested people not to take this medicine without the prescription.