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Just-in-case Tamiflu buyers turned away

Jun 30th, 2009 | By | Category: Latest News, News

davelornie-copyLARGE numbers of people turning up to Wellington pharmacies to buy Tamiflu are surprised when the answer is “No”.

Contrary to most people’s expectation, pharmacists can’t sell the flu treatment to people seeking it as a preventative or to have on hand “just in case”.

As confirmed cases of swine flu top 200 in Wellington this week, pharmacists are seeing steady streams of enquirers, mostly from travellers.

Brian Johnson, a Karori pharmacist, says the majority of people wanting Tamiflu from his pharmacy want it “mainly to cover maskstand-copyunexpected illness when travelling”.

But pharmacists can’t sell Tamiflu to travellers or others who don’t have symptoms unless they have a doctor’s prescription.

People with symptoms that meet the list of guidelines provided to pharmacies can be given the drug.

One Newtown pharmacist, who does not wish to be named, says some media coverage has “misrepresented …who is eligible to buy Tamiflu”, which makes it difficult for pharmacists as people assume they can purchase it to have a stock at home.

Miramar pharmacist Ann Privett says most are intending to travel. They have been “always pleasant and happy to go and get a prescription when told that is what they need”.

People with a prescription endorsed by Regional Public Health get the drug free of charge, with the Capital & Coast District Health Board covering the cost.

But only selected pharmacies in Wellington can dispense Tamiflu from the district health board-funded stockpile. 

Miramar Unichem Pharmacy is one of the pharmacies with access to the DHB stock, and Ann Privett says she is impressed with the DHB’s handling of the novel virus.

She also says as it a flu that people have no immunity to, and can be easily caught, but is mild, it has been “a great exercise in case we do get a more serious pandemic”.

“The Ministry [of Health] and Government acted quickly and effectively.”

The selected pharmacies have been supplied with packs from the DHB containing hand sanitiser and surgical masks. These are stationed at the door so people with flu symptoms can use them before entering the pharmacy.

The pharmacists all agree taking sensible precautions like throwing out used tissues, keeping hands clean and staying home if you are sick are the main things to remember.

Pharmacist intern Dave Lornie adds:”People should be cautious, without letting it rule their life.”

PICTURE (top): Pharmacist intern Dave Lornie: Tamiflu for those who have symptoms – or a prescription.

Novel A (H1N1) 09 Virus Symptoms:
Fever of 38deg C or higher *** cough *** sore throat *** runny or stuffy nose *** body aches *** headache  chills or sweating *** fatigue
Some people also experience diarrhoea and vomiting

Pharmacies dispensing DHB-funded Tamiflu:
Kenepuru Pharmacy; After-hours Pharmacy Newtown; Radius Pharmacy Coastlands Mall; Amcal Cuba Mall Pharmacy; Cannons Creek Pharmacy; Newtown Mall Pharmacy; Karori Mall Pharmacy; Johnsonville Life Pharmacy; Miramar Healthcare Pharmacy; Waikanae Radius Pharmacy

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is a Whitireia Journalism student.
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