Friday, July 17, 2009

Swine flu medicine available via GPs

AN ANTI-VIRAL medicine used to treat the symptoms of swine flu should be available in pharmacies around the country from today – but only on prescription.

Dr Pat Doorley, the national director of population health with the Health Service Executive (HSE), said Tamiflu had been delivered to community pharmacies and GPs in recent days. Dr Doorley confirmed at a briefing on the virus in Government Buildings last evening that Tamiflu would only be available with a prescription.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said yesterday the pandemic was the fastest-moving ever and that it was now pointless to count every case. It revised its requirements so that national health authorities need only report clusters of severe cases or deaths caused by the virus.

The WHO said past pandemics had needed more than six months to spread as widely as the new virus had in six weeks.

Earlier this week, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan predicted swine flu could infect one million people in the State as it spreads later in the year. Dr Holohan said 146 cases of swine flu had been confirmed here as of yesterday.

He said the vast majority of people who contracted swine flu would recover from the virus without taking Tamiflu and stocks of the anti-viral would be reserved for treating severe infections.

Dr Doorley said the HSE had access to anti-virals to treat more than half the population and he was confident this was enough to treat a more serious scenario than that currently facing the HSE.

“We do not want over-use. We do not want resistance developing to these drugs. We are not concerned that we do not have enough Tamiflu. We should have enough and we can order more.”

The strategy of the Department of Health and the HSE officially changed yesterday because they believe preventing the virus’s spread is no longer an option.

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