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Drug won?t be retailed

THE GOVERNMENT is banning the retail sale of oseltamivir, the drug used to treat bird flu. "We'll not permit indiscriminate selling of the drug, which is not safe for general use, more so for children," says health secretary Prasanna Hota. "Oseltamivir will be sold only through the public health channel, through very strict guidelines."

india Updated: Feb 21, 2006 14:51 IST

THE GOVERNMENT is banning the retail sale of oseltamivir, the drug used to treat bird flu. "We'll not permit indiscriminate selling of the drug, which is not safe for general use, more so for children," says health secretary Prasanna Hota. "Oseltamivir will be sold only through the public health channel, through very strict guidelines."

Oseltamivir is considered unsafe because it makes people drug-resitant very quickly and has side effects. However, Dr Y.K. Hamied, chairman, Cipla, whose cheaper version of oseltamivir is ready to hit the market on Tuesday, is unfazed.

"It's a very good move of the government's as it'll prevent stockpiling and ensure that the drug reaches those who really need it," he says. "At the same time, the government should consider that a person infected with bird flu has to be given the drug within 48 hours. What will happen to all those who cannot reach a government hospital in time for the medicine?"
Hamied's suggestion: hospitals and doctors should be allowed to retail oseltamivir.

"We've been offering the drug for Rs 650 for a course (10 strips) to the government and still do so, even though the retail price is Rs 1,000," he says. Currently, the government is buying the drug for Rs 745 from Hetero, which has the Roche sub-licence to market it in India.

Asked what he would do if Roche (holder of the global marketing rights for oseltamivir) were to prevent him from marketing the drug, Hamied says: "I'm doing this for my government and my countrymen. It's up to them to uphold my position."


WHO experts say eating cooked chicken and eggs is safe On Monday, health secy Prasanna Hota said he had chicken for dinner. Dr N.K. Ganguly, director general, ICMR, said he had it for lunch But bad news for exporters. Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and some Gulf countries have banned the import of poultry and its products from India
State issues guidelines

The Madhya Pradesh Directorate of Veterinary Services on Monday issued detailed instructions to the poultry farms, hatchery owners and small-time poultry farmers to strictly follow the bio-security norms. They were warned not to import poultry.

First Published: Feb 21, 2006 14:51 IST