Ten Times As Many Prescribed Tamiflu
Swedish doctors have prescribed the antiviral drug Tamiflu to the value of almost 200 000 US dollars during the first six months of 2009.
According to the latest figures from the Swedish State Monopoly Pharmacy Apoteket AB, this is ten times as much as during the same period last year.
The increase in prescriptions began as the first reports of Swine Flu A/H1N1 started coming in from Mexico and culminated in May. The increase is worrying Martin Holmberg, of the Unit of Infectious Disease at the National Board of Health and Welfare.
"The unnecessary overuse of Tamiflu could cause a development of a treatment resistant virus and then we have really made the situation worse for many," he said to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.
Normally, the use of Tamiflu is very small over the course of the summer months as there is very limited outbreaks of flu during the warm season. The difference this year is clearly the Swine Flu. So far, 300 cases have been confirmed in Sweden - not enough to account for the increase in prescribed antiviral drugs.
"My guess is that there are those that have hoarded the drug. It is also possible that larger companies have bought up their own stores of the drug to administer to their employees," Holmberg said.
Holmberg advises the public not to hoard Tamiflu and says that there is no reason to do so as they have a good store of the drug. So far and despite the increase in prescriptions, there is no lack of the drug available to those who actually need it, Holmberg said to DN.