How the demand for Tamiflu and Relenza may kill us all

The current strain of swine flu appears to be sensitive to the anti-virals Tamiflu and Relenza.

That’s causing huge demand for these medications, with many pharmacies rapidly selling out. For instance, a typical pharmacy may fill one prescription of Tamiflu a week, but now, dispenses up to 25 packages per day.

There’s clear stockpiling going on, and the doctors who acquiesce to patient demand share the blame.

Los Angeles pharmacist Christine Amos is outraged, saying, “Clearly these requests are for stockpiling and not for active infections. These drugs sit in the medicine cabinets of the well-heeled who can demand and get a prescription for every single member of the family while these drugs remain in short supply for populations that may need it. People in under-served populations without access to medical care rely on clinics that may not have these antivirals in part due to unnecessary hoarding.”

Indeed.

Additionally, people who inappropriately take these anti-virals only serve to breed resistance. So when the virus appears in its next incarnation, there may be nothing effective to treat it.

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