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Key swine flu hospital out of Tamiflu

RML hospital said the anti-viral had been exhausted due to the 'rush of patients'.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi |
Updated: February 17, 2015 2:49:20 am
swine flu, tamiflu, swine flu delhi Patients wait outside a private chemist for the drug on Monday. (Source: EXPRESS PHOTOS)

With swine flu cases continuing to rise in the city, several patients at the Central government’s Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital on Monday were asked to buy Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) tablets from private chemists or go to other hospitals after drug stocks at RML were exhausted by afternoon.

With two private chemists outside RML hospital — Krishna Medicos and New Delhi Medicos — also running out of supplies, a crowd of around 60-70 patients wearing protective masks waited outside all day. Some went to other government hospitals and to the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) for the tablets.

A 33-year-old patient, who was waiting outside New Delhi Medicos, said, “Many of us have been waiting for four hours already. Doctors at the swine flu desk in RML said I should get the drugs from the pharmacies outside because the hospital has run out of stock. We were not told which other hospitals to get the drugs from.”

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At New Delhi Medicos, patients were billed around Rs 500 in advance for the drugs, even though they were yet to receive the stock.

“We have to get new stocks almost every day because we get at least a 100 patients on a daily basis. There is total chaos when the drugs arrive and patients who are the first ones to come here and have been waiting don’t end up getting the medicines. So, to manage the crowd better, we are billing them in advance,” the bearer at New Delhi Medicos said.

Meanwhile, RML hospital authorities said Oseltamivir were exhausted on Monday due to the “rush of patients” and would be replenished on Tuesday.

“There are 25 identified hospitals for treatment but we get the most number of patients. Every 2-3 days we are ordering 3,000-4,000 drugs but they are exhausted. I have placed an order for more drugs and we should have them by tomorrow,” RML medical superintendent Dr H K Kar said.

Nodal officer for swine flu at RML hospital, Dr Sunil Saxena, did not respond to repeated calls and messages.

Senior Health department officials said since Oseltamivir was identified under Schedule X in the list of drugs, only a few private chemists in the city — who have licences for keeping drugs under this category — could stock it.

President of the All India Chemists and Distributors Federation Kailash Gupta, said, “Only about 10-12 private chemists in the city can sell this drug. These shops have waiting lists of patients since they are exhausting stocks on a daily basis. We have asked the Union Health Ministry to allow other chemists to sell this drug till this crisis period is dealt with.”

However, Delhi government health secretary S C L Das said there was no shortage of drugs in government hospitals. However, he said he would check the situation at RML hospital.

“There is no shortage of drugs. We also have buffer stock at DHS. Regular replenishment is being done. RML is a central government hospital but we will check.”

Sources in the Delhi government also said drugs were being sent to all 25 identified hospitals in Delhi from DHS, and the health ministry was supplying additional stocks, if needed.

Meanwhile at Safdarjung hospital — the other central government hospital for swine flu — authorities said there was no shortage of Tamiflu. “We just received 2,000 tablets on Sunday. We are also taking additional stocks from the health ministry. Till now there is no shortage,” medical superintendent Dr Rajpal said.

At Lok Nayak hospital too, authorities said there was no shortage of drugs.

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