As the panic of contracting H1N1 gripped the Valley, there are reports of Tamiflu being sold over-the-counter to paranoid customers. Tamiflu abuse can prove fatal, according to experts.
Tamilflu is a prescription drug, to be strictly monitored by drug controllers of the region. Experts warned of the impending threat of the use of Tamiflu without a confirmed positive test for H1N1.
"The current outbreak of H1N1 could be because of resistance to Tamiflu. Either the virus has mutated or it has become resistant to Tamilflu. In any case, the drug needs to be used judiciously," said Dr S M Kadri, Senior Epidemiologist and Nodal Officer for H1N1 in the state.
A senior pulmonologist wishing not to be named said, "Paranoid people are popping pills including Tamiflu. In Kashmir, it is not difficult to manage any drug if the chemist knows you."
However, Controller Food and Drugs Kashmir, Nazir Ahmed Wani said, "How is it (OTC sale) possible? We maintain strict vigil on all the suppliers of Tamiflu. They have to maintain sale and purchase records and we inspect these regularly."
A Tamiflu drug supplier wishing not to be named said that only Schedule X licence holding pharmacies can sell Tamiflu. "But it is quite easy to sell the drug for any chemist without adherence to instructions and guidelines," he added.
Experts believe that government needs to make all possible efforts o ensure that Tamiflu is not misused. At the same time, they have called for adequate supply of drugs in government hospitals so that people who actually need this drug do not have to face problems.
Stakeholders are concerned about the widespread myths and misinformation regarding H1N1. "There is nothing called swine flu now," said Dr. Kadri. He added that rumours are being circulated via social media and people need to get right information.
Tamiflu is the only drug effective in treatment of H1N1 and Influenza A and B.