Easier access to H1N1 medicines raises fears of drug resistance

What is the concern ?

Drugs used to treat swine flu, after two such drugs Oseltamivir and Zanamivir were taken off the restrictive Schedule X of the Drugs and Comestics Rules. Now under Schedule H1, the drugs can be stocked by all chemists.

How the move will affect ?

Medical experts say these decisions could lead to misuse and eventually, severe drug resistance. Already witnessing antibiotic resistance and related hazards. Resistance built up only because antibiotics were easily available and even sold over the counter.  The move will be going the same way with antiviral drugs. Doctors will prescribe these drugs so widely that eventually it will stop working.

How the drugs Oseltamivir and Zanamivir works?

Antiviral drugs that block the actions of influenza virus types A and B in the body. While Oseltamivir is available as tablets, Zanamivir comes in powder form.

Why such a move is important ?

The H1N1 cases are on the rise, the drug will be available to patients easily.

Drugs and Comestics Rules

Drugs under Schedule X : Require three copies of prescription for the doctor, patient and chemist, and can be sold by a chemist who holds a special Schedule X licence. Also, the chemist has to preserve the prescription copy for up to three years.

Drugs Under Schedule H1 : Only one copy of the prescription is required, and drugs in this category can be sold by all chemists.

What to be done ?

Chemists will still need a prescription to sell the drug. Take medicine only as prescribed by the doctor. The doctor prescribe the drug with caution, there won’t be misuse. Central health authorities have also advised doctors to prescribe the drugs based on strong symptoms, without opting for the swab test.

Source : The Hindu

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