Anti-viral drugs available soon

Pharmacies in Greece are expected to have anti-viral drugs available by the end of the week to sell to swine flu sufferers, it was revealed yesterday, as researchers in Britain said that medicines such as Tamiflu and Relenza should not be administered to children under the age of 12. The president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Attica (FSA), Constantinos Lourantos, told Kathimerini that pharmacies should take delivery of the anti-virals within the next two or three days as orders had already been placed with the pharmaceutical companies. Pharmacies are stocking up on the drugs after the government decided last week that they should be made more widely available. Until now, patients could be administered anti-viral drugs only at hospitals. Lourantos expressed the view that there will be no big demand for Tamiflu before the beginning of September, when he expects a rise in the number of swine flu cases in Greece. According to the Hellenic Center for Infectious Diseases Control’s (KEEL) most recent figures, released last week, more than 1,000 people have contracted swine flu in Greece. There have not been any deaths but three people were treated in intensive-care units. Under the new scheme, the anti-virals will be made available to people in particularly vulnerable groups, such as those with breathing problems, after a doctor has issued them with a prescription and a note. KEEL has recommended to pediatricians that they only administer the drugs to children who are seriously ill or are considered high-risk. The advice comes as British researchers raised concern about the use of anti-virals on children. Dr Matthew Thompson, a clinical scientist and Oxford GP, and Dr Carl Heneghan, a GP and clinical lecturer at Oxford University, found that in some children Tamiflu caused vomiting, which can lead to dehydration and complications. Thompson said it was «inappropriate» for Tamiflu and Relenza to be given to most children with mild flu symptoms. They called on the Department of Health to immediately reassess its pandemic flu policy.