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Sep 23, 2009 at 02:35am IST

What's the X factor? Tamiflu sold with Schedule X tag

New Delhi: Tamiflu is officially out for sale from Tuesday on prescription. Tamiflu - the first line of treatment along with second-line drug Relenza sold in India as Virenza will be on sale at 480 pharmacies now. But only under prescription. Both drugs are listed under Schedule X of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 2008.

Schedule X is generally invoked for narcotic and psychotropic drugs. The Government is including these to regulate the distribution so that easier availability does not translate into overuse. Because that could lead to the H1N1 virus developing resistance.

For the swine flu medication, you will have to provide three copies of a doctor's prescription -- one will be stamped and returned to you, while the pharmacist will keep the other two.

The prescription must also clearly contain your doctor's contact details. State drug controllers will be monitoring the sales.

It's a good thing too, that these aren't over the counter drugs. Both have side-effects that doctors take into consideration before prescribing them. tamiflu can cause nausea, diarrhea, bronchitis, dizziness, headache and even adverse psychiatric effects and hallucinations.

"The drug's literature, mentions side effects. We have been constantly warning against indiscriminate use. It can also lead to resistance," said Dr Suranjit Chaterjee.

Virenza also cannot be given to children under seven-years-old. It is an inhaled drug that has proved effective in cases where the virus has been resistant to tamiflu worldwide. And here's the cost factor -- a strip of 10 tablets of tamiflu will cost you Rs 470, 20 tablets of Virenza will cost Rs 800. Both are given free of cost to patients being treated at Government hospitals.

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