A child has samples taken for type-A influenza in the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hà Nội last Friday. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Quyết
HÀ NỘI — People are advised to be cautious and consult a doctor before buying and taking Tamiflu to treat type-A influenza.
The recommendation comes as the number of people contracting flu is increasing around the country, including in Hà Nội.
Data from Hà Nội Centre for Disease Control shows that the number of people contracting flu was less than 400 per month between January and April. However, cases reached 887 in June, a 60 per cent increase in May.
Trương Hữu Khanh, head of the Infectious and Nervous Diseases Department at HCM City’s Paediatrics Hospital No.1, said because of side effects, Tamiflu should not be used without consulting a doctor.
“Tamiflu should only be for cases of acute viral pneumonia or for people with diabetes with the risk of it being aggravated,” he said.
Tamiflu is available in a single dose for adults and is difficult to give to children safely, he added.
Only doctors know how to divide doses according to age, he said.
It is easy to over or under-dose when parents buy Tamiflu to treat their children at home, he said.
It might even cause drug resistance if Tamiflu is used at the wrong dose, he said.
According to health experts, 80-90 per cent of flu cases are mild and go away on their own. People who have a slight cough, runny nose, low fever and a chest X-ray showing no damage can be treated at home.
Only cases of persistent high fever and lung damage need to be hospitalised for treatment.
In addition to Tamiflu, doctors also use many other drugs to treat the disease, health experts said.
Đỗ Thiện Hải, Deputy Director of the Centre for Tropical Diseases under the National Children's Hospital, said that parents should not arbitrarily buy Tamiflu to treat their children.
This drug is used to inhibit virus replication, reducing the ability of the virus to adhere to the respiratory tract, he said.
However, a study, conducted by the hospital, revealed that if Tamiflu is used 48 hours after the onset of fever symptoms, it is no different from the group of patients who do not use it, he said.
The important issue when children have type-A influenza is to pay attention to reducing fever, cleaning the respiratory tract and avoiding superinfection, he said.
It is necessary to supplement with adequate nutrients to increase the resistance of children, he said.
The Drug Administration of Việt Nam under the Ministry of Health recommends that in the treatment of influenza, Tamiflu, containing the active ingredient Oseltamivir 75mg, is a drug that should not be used arbitrarily.
Tamiflu and other drugs containing the active ingredient Oseltamivir are prescription drugs. If used not following the prescription, it may lead to danger to life and health, the administration said.
Increasing Tamiflu prices
Due to the increasing number of flu cases, people's demand for Tamiflu has also increased, leading to an abnormal increase in prices.
It cost about VNĐ480,000-500,000 (US$20-21) per box of 10 tablets a few weeks ago.
Now, the price has risen to VNĐ530,000-580,000 ($23-25) a box. In some places, the price even reaches VNĐ750,000 ($29-32) for a box of 10 tablets.
Nguyễn Thị Lan Hoa, of Yên Nghĩa Ward, Hà Đông District said the price of a tablet of Tamiflu is about VNĐ68,000-72,000 ($2.9-3.2) at drugs store near her house.
The owner of a drug store in Long Biên District said the price of Tamiflu was VNĐ480,000 ($2) before July 22. Now, it costs VNĐ560,000 ($24), and even at that price Tamiflu is sold out at the store.
The price of drugs increase mainly because wholesalers pushed up the prices, she said. VNS
Influenza factsAccording to World Health Organisation, influenza virus types A and B are both common causes of acute respiratory illnesses, although influenza A viruses are the principal cause of large epidemics, as well as pandemics. Children are efficient transmitters of influenza viruses and those 5-9 years of age typically manifest the highest rates of infection and illness.However, severe morbidity and mortality are more common among elderly people and in specific high-risk groups. Although morbidity, mortality and affected risk groups appear to be similar all over the world, in many developing countries the disease burden and socioeconomic impact of influenza are largely unknown.Influenza viruses undergo frequent changes in their surface antigens. Immunity resulting from infection by one influenza virus does not protect fully against antigenic or genetic variants of the same subtype (influenza A viruses) or type (influenza B viruses). As a consequence, influenza outbreaks occur every year and new influenza vaccines must be designed annually to match the circulating viruses, which are expected to cause the next epidemic. — VNS