6 May 2009

Restrictions on supply of Tamiflu in Australia

5:20 am on 6 May 2009

A rush on prescriptions of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu has forced the Australian government to ration supplies.

The global outbreak of swine flu has seen a 10-fold increase in prescriptions, even though there are no confirmed cases of the disease in Australia.

In a normal flu season, about 10,000 courses of the drug are sold.

But in the last week alone, the ABC reports 120,000 courses of the drug were sold and many pharmacies have run out.

The Federal Government is concerned people are hoarding the drug, and that some doctors may be mis-prescribing Tamiflu.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon says hospitals and doctors will now have to approach the manufacturer, Roche, directly to access the drug for patients diagnosed with influenza.

The company will continue to supply Tamiflu for hospitals and GPs to treat confirmed cases of influenza. She says these supplies will be allocated through hospitals.

The Government says its own supplies are not affected by the run on the drugs, as it has a contract with the manufacturer to regularly update its stockpile.