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Health Division warning over anti-flu pandemic medicine - 12/8/2005

link to Official DOI press release
AVVIŻ MID-DIVIŻJONI TAS-SAĦĦA DWAR IL-MEDIĊINI KONTRA L-VIRUS TAL-PANDEMIJA

UK warning
link to uk warning

Id-Divizjoni tas-Saħħa waslulha diversi rapporti li tobba u spizjara qed jieħdu ordnijiet bil-quddiem għall-mediċini kontra l-virus tal-pandemija kif ukoll għall-vaċċin kontra din l-istess marda.

Id-Divizjoni tas-Saħħa tavża lill-pubbliku li fil-preparamenti li qed isiru għall-eventwalita’ li jkun hawn pandemija, il-Gvern diġa’ ordna vaċċini u mediċini bizzejjed biex ikopru l-ħtiġijiet tal-poplu.

Id-Divizjoni tavza ukoll li l-mediċini għandhom jittieħdu biss fuq ordni tat-tabib wara li jkun konfermat li l-individwu jkun qed ibati mill-influwenza pandemika u mhux bħala prekawzjoni. Jista’ jkun ta’ ħsara jekk il-mediċini jittieħdu biex wieħed jilqa’ kontra l-influwenza.

Id-Divizjoni tfakkar li huwa kontra l-liġi li tobba jbiegħu b’mod dirett mediċini lill-pazjenti. Huwa daqstant kontra l-liġi li spizjara jordnaw u jfornu jew jamministraw mediċini u vaċċini kontra l-virus mingħajr riċetta ta’ tabib.
DOI 11.08.2005

link to article in The TIMES

Health Division warning over anti-flu pandemic medicine
Cynthia Busuttil

The Health Division warned yesterday it would be illegal for pharmacies to sell medicines to treat those infected with the virus causing the influenza pandemic without a prescription.

It would be also illegal for pharmacies to dispense of vaccines against the virus causing the influenza pandemic without a doctor's prescription.

Moreover, the division said, it was also against the law for doctors to sell medicines directly to patients.

The warnings followed reports that doctors and pharmacists were taking orders for antivirals and the specific vaccine for the influenza virus.

Some pharmacies around the island are displaying signs informing people they can order antivirals.

Antivirals would have a very important role, especially during the crucial months at the start of the pandemic when no vaccine is yet available. Antivirals (which can be taken as tablets or as an inhaler) will be the only medicine that can be used to treat infected people. When taken within 48 hours from the development of symptoms, antivirals help reduce viral shedding, shorten the period of illness, reduce the severity of symptoms and could lead to a reduction in complications.

Although antivirals are used regularly in other countries during the annual influenza season, they had never been popular in Malta before. In fact, when launched here about four years ago, there had not been any demand for them, leading to a lot of money being lost.

But the fear of the influenza pandemic has led to the availability of antivirals in the private sector. Readers have contacted The Times saying that certain pharmacies had put up signs informing people they could order antivirals. The readers said some pharmacies were taking the orders against a deposit and others were charging the full price of the antivirals - about Lm16 - on order.

The Health Division said the government had ordered enough antivirals and vaccines to cover Malta's needs as part of its ongoing preparations. It was referring to the specific vaccine for the virus causing the pandemic and not the vaccine which is taken annually in autumn to ward off seasonal influenza.

The specific vaccine for the pandemic will only be available after the pandemic starts. The first step will be for the World Health Organisation to identify the strain causing the pandemic and produce the seed virus, which will then be given to pharmaceutical companies to start mass-producing the vaccines.

Last month the government announced that the country would be getting 350,000 doses of the vaccine when this was available. This would cover 90 per cent of the population. The vaccine is expected to be available a few months after the start of the pandemic.

The government is also following WHO's recommendations and stocking up on the antiviral Tamiflu for 25 per cent of the population. The pandemic is expected to affect 25 per cent of the population.

The Health Division stressed yesterday that antivirals should only be taken once a person has been diagnosed by a doctor to be suffering from the influenza virus causing the pandemic. It insisted that antivirals should not be taken as a precaution.

Influenza experts around the world have been warning that a pandemic, probably caused by a mutation of the avian influenza virus mutating into a virus that could be transmitted among humans, could be approaching.



 
 
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