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  • The antiviral medication Tamiflu, used in the treatment of the H1N1 (Influenza A) virus is to be made available at all pharmacies across the island.
  • The medication was previously only available through hospital pharmacies.
  • Tamiflu is only used to treat symptoms in severely affected patients and does not prevent illness.

The antiviral medication Tamiflu, used in the treatment of the H1N1 (Influenza A) virus is to be made available at all pharmacies across the island.

This was disclosed by Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Winston De La Haye, during a recent interview on the JIS’ ‘Issues and Answers’ television programme.

The medication was previously only available through hospital pharmacies.

Dr.  De La Haye said that having seen an increase in the number of influenza cases, the decision was made “to now have Tamiflu, subject to importation by the pharmaceutical distributor…. available in all pharmacies. Of course you will need to have a prescription by a doctor.”

He said the Ministry will be providing doctors with treatment guidelines as not every patient should be recommended to receive the drug.

            “We really don’t want it to be everyone or soon you will have resistance being developed,” he pointed out.

Tamiflu is only used to treat symptoms in severely affected patients and does not prevent illness. The Ministry has shored up supply of the medication available through the hospital pharmacies.

The Acting CMO informed that for the next flu season, the Government will be encouraging persons, especially those in the high risk group to get the flu vaccine.

            “We are looking at making this available in all pharmacies at an affordable price,” Dr. De La Haye stated.

            Influenza is a viral respiratory illness that presents with symptoms including fever, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, headache and body aches and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea may also be experienced.

Influenza viruses are mainly spread from person to person through droplets produced while coughing or sneezing or by persons touching surfaces contaminated with droplets.

            Some of the precautions persons can take include: Clean hands frequently with soap and water; Cover mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing; Control the spread of germs: avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands; Avoid contact with persons with flu-like symptoms; Avoid intimate contact including hand shaking and kissing.

The Ministry has significantly bolstered the stock of drug at the hospital pharmacies.