H1N1 toll 83, anti-flu drug may be allowed in market


New Delhi : With the country reporting five more swine flu deaths Friday, taking the toll from the H1N1 virus to 83, the government is considering selling the anti-influenza drug in the open market.

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Three patients died in Karnataka and one each in Maharashtra and Kerala. In Karnataka, two deaths were reported from Bangalore and one from Bijapur.

According to Maharashtra health authorities, a 39-year-old man suffering from swine flu died at a Navi Mumbai hospital. With this, the toll from the viral disease in the state rose to 48.

On Friday, the Drug Controller General of India Surinder Singh said they would allow the retail sale of the anti-flu drug Oseltamivir, a generic version of Roche’s Tamiflu.

Singh said the notification regarding the sale of Oseltamivir through retail pharmacies is expected to come in the next 10-12 days.

Six companies Ranbaxy, Cipla, Metco, Hetero, Strides and Roche have been granted licence for the manufacture and distribution of the drug.

Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi had told IANS “If the situation demands, we will allow restricted sale of Tamiflu.”

According to officials, Maharashtra has recorded the highest number of deaths and H1N1 cases in the country. A staggering 1,519 cases have been reported from the state.

The person who died of swine flu in Maharashtra has been identified only as Shaikh. He was admitted to D.Y. Hospital in Navi Mumbai a few days ago in a serious condition and died late Thursday.

So far, 22 of the 34 districts in the state are swine flu-affected, the worst hit among them being Pune, Mumbai and Nashik.

Karnataka has reported the second highest deaths after Maharashtra at 23.

The swine flu scare led to the closure of the Bangalore-based National Law School of India University (NLSIU) Friday for 10 days. The decision follows several educational institutions closing down for a few days.

“The decision was taken as a precautionary measure. The university decided to close for 10 days, so that the entire campus can be fumigated. The fumigation process has already started,” NLSIU Vice Chancellor R. Venkata Rao told IANS.

The university decided to close in the wake of a swine flu death in its neighbourhood Nagarabhavi here last week. The university will reopen Aug 30.

However, no university student has tested positive for the virus during their screening recently at the Mallige Hospital.

A 44-year-old woman died of swine flu in Kerala, taking the death toll in the state to two.

Nodal officer Amar S. Fettle told IANS that the patient was being treated at a hospital and died Thursday at Kochi.

Meanwhile, 139 fresh swine flu cases were reported in the country Friday, taking the total number of those affected with the virus to 3,534.

The highest number of fresh cases were reported from Delhi, where 24 people were tested positive, followed by Kerala with 23.

The other cases were reported from Maharashtra (20), Karnataka (19), Tamil Nadu (19) Andhra Pradesh (12), Haryana (5), Chandigarh (1), west Bengal (6), Uttar Pradesh (6)and Rajasthan (4).

“So far, 19,789 people were tested of which 3,534 were found positive,” the health ministry said.

Of the 139 fresh cases, only five are imported and the rest are indigenous.