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Tamiflu prices fluctuate, Health Ministry tightens price control

The Drug Administration of Vietnam has sent a document to healthcare departments, hospitals and drug traders, requesting a sufficient supply of drugs for seasonal influenza and strict control over drug prices.

Some cities and provinces have reported sharp increases in the number of seasonal influenza infections. Of these, the number of A-type influenza infections reported by hospitals is higher than in previous years.

The agency has asked local healthcare departments to instruct hospitals and preventive medicine centers to implement plans to ensure sufficient supply of drugs, especially drugs for A-type influenza treatment.

On the Ministry of Health’s information portal, Tamiflu 75 mg is sold at VND44,877-48,877 per tablet and a box contains 10 tablets.

However, in the last couple of weeks, some drugstores sold the drug at VND520,000 per box, and others have been found selling at VND700,000 because of high demand.

Dr Truong Huu Khanh from the HCM City Infection Control Society said that the drug may cause serious consequences when it is wrongly used. 

He stressed that if patients don’t follow physicians’ instructions, they will suffer serious side effects, including neurological effects and depression. 

He stressed that though Tamiflu is used for only a few days, it may cause patients to have pessimistic thoughts and depression. In some cases, patients may experience vomiting and allergies.

A-type influenza is an acute respiratory infection that often circulates when weather conditions change, caused by common variants of A-type influenza virus such as A/H1N1 and A/H3N2. It often goes away without treatment.

But the flu may become serious for some groups of people, including people more than 65 years old, children, pregnant women and immunocompromised people, who need drugs. However, people rushing to drugstores to buy and hoard Tamiflu, and viewing Tamiflu as a panacea, has raised concern.

According to Khanh, Tamiflu is used for 5-7 days as prescribed by physicians. If people drink Tamiflu 48 or 72 hours after catching the flu, the drugs will not bring effects.

It is difficult for children to take Tamiflu. One tablet will be a  overdose for them. It is necessary to cut the tablets into pieces and mix with water. It would be better to bring children to hospitals, and if they need drugs, the drug will be prepared by medical workers.

Khanh said that Tamiflu is used only for patients with severe pneumonia or immunodeficiencies. 

“Tamiflu is not a panacea. Let doctors prescribe medicines for you,” he said.

Linh Giao

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