Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tamiflu available at pharmacies

By Annie Freeda Cruez

KUALA LUMPUR: The anti-viral drug, Tamiflu, is now sold at all 1,800 pharmacies nationwide.

Some 6,000 pharmacists have been strictly told to dispense the drug to only those with a doctor's prescription.

It comes in capsule form of 30mg, 45mg or 75mg.

Three companies -- Roche (M) Sdn Bhd, Ranbaxy (M) Sdn Bhd and CCM Duopharma Biotech Berhad -- are involved in the supply of Tamiflu.

Tamiflu was invented by US biotech company Gilead Sciences Inc.

CCM Duopharma Biotech chief executive officer Leonard Ariff Abd Shatar said the government had been stockpiling the anti-viral drug for the past three years and there was sufficient supply to meet demand.

He said the Health Ministry was working closely with pharmaceutical companies to ensure sufficient supply.

"Our company will come out with a generic version of Tamiflu."

The first batch of 30,000 boxes of the 75mg generic drug would be out before the end of the month, he said.

He added that the production of the drug would be in accordance with demand.

Ranbaxy is also producing a generic version of the anti-viral drug locally. The drug is sold in the market for between RM120 to RM140 per box.

Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society president Datuk Nancy Ho said pharmacies would not stockpile the anti-viral drug, but it would be readily available within 24 hours of a patient presenting a doctor's prescription.

"The pharmacies do not want to stockpile the drug due to the expiry problem.

"Pharmacists have been told to inform patients about the drug's side effects and how to take it. It's important that patients understand how the drug works so that they will complete the dosage prescribed."

She said pharmacies would also educate the public about the disease and how to avoid spreading it to family members and the public.

"We will also emphasise the importance of regular hand-washing and using hand sanitisers."

She also called on pharmacies to maintain the price of the anti-viral drug and not use the crisis to reap profits.- NST.

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