India on Thursday said that it was open to the idea of allowing the “restricted sale” of swine flu drug Tamiflu in the market, but only if the situation demanded it.
“If the situation demands, we will allow restricted sale of Tamiflu,” said Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi.
“The situation has not arisen so far. But we will not hesitate if such a situation arises. Sale in open market needs regulation. We have not allowed open sale because swine flu is still under control and overuse can lead to drug resistance,” the minister said on the sidelines of a Life Science Conclave.
The country, he said, was prepared and had been successful in controlling the virus but it was now in the air. “The vaccine will be ready in the world in a couple of months and it will benefit all.”
According to Trivedi, India has more H1N1 testing centres than the US. “The US has only 19 swine flu testing centres whereas we have more than double that number.”
Tamiflu sales are allowed to be sold in the market in the US because the situation was "out of control there", he said.
“It's out of control there. Tens of thousands of people have been affected. The fatalities are much more,” Trivedi said.
The country has “enough Tamiflu stocks” to handle the situation, he reassured the people.
Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had said earlier that India had stockpiled at least 20 million Tamiflu tablets and distributed nearly 10 million to state governments.
The virus has affected nearly 3,300 people since India reported its first case in early May; 75 people have succumbed to the infectious disease.