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January 16, 2016

Medicine for swine flu not available in market

Islamabad

January 16, 2016

Public sector hospitals, health departments have sufficient stocks

Islamabad

The antiviral medications, including oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza), which are needed to help relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of serious complications among patients of influenza H1N1, swine flu, are not available in the markets of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

‘The News’ has learnt that a few chemists are exploiting the situation and selling smuggled antiviral medications to patients in black. Attendants of a patient of swine flu got medicine from a chemist at Peshawar Road for Rs23,000 that costs less than Rs2500 in retail, said ICU Medical Specialist Dr. Muhammad Haroon while talking to ‘The News’.

He said another patient got one pack of Tamiflu for Rs30,000 that was smuggled from India. It is important for public to know that the efficacy of smuggled medicine may not be up to the standard because it is not kept under suitable temperature while being smuggled, he said.

The Rawalpindi Medical College and Allied Hospitals in Rawalpindi and public sector hospitals in the federal capital, however, have sufficient stocks of Tamiflu for patients of the infection.

“We have sufficient stock of oseltamivir available at Benazir Bhutto Hospital and can manage 20 to 25 patients of swine flu with the help of available stock easily,” said Medical Superintendent at BBH Dr. Asif Qadir Mir while talking to ‘The News’ on Friday.

In-charge Epidemiological Investigation Cell at National Institute of Health Dr. Mumtaz Ali, when contacted by this scribe said that sufficient quantity of Temiflu is available at the district health departments in twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi though it is not available in open markets.

He said it is a misconception that swine flu is dangerous for every patient. In healthy persons, swine flu subsides in five to six days like seasonal flu as a self-limiting infection and everyone does not need antiviral treatment.

He, however, explained that among chronic patients particularly those with diabetics, heart problems, cancer or patients with pre-existing health conditions, swine flu can be critical or fatal. Swine flu can be fatal for patients already under intensive care, he said.

He said swine flu may cause serious complications among patients below two years of age or over 65 years of age, in pregnant women and in children and adults suffering from long-term respiratory or heart diseases.

Dr. Mumtaz said that everyone with a weak immune system or whose immunity is being compromised due to pre-existing health condition is at risk of contracting swine flu and its complications and such patients should get flu shots, vaccine to avoid flu.