THE PUBLIC Health Ministry today (Oct. 11) confirmed that there is no shortage of medicine to treat influenza while warning the public to not be fooled into buying expensive smuggled counterfeits amid a severe outbreak in many provinces, TV Channel 7 said.
Public Health Minister Cholanan Srikaew, who is a physician, said some influenza strains, particularly type A, its subtypes H1N1 and H3N2, and type B, have spread rapidly in many provinces.
From Jan. 1 to Sep. 30 this year the cumulative confirmed flu patients reached 248,322, an illness rate of 375.50 per 100,000 people.
Chonlanan mentioned that his ministry is accelerating vaccination of high-risk groups and extending free flu shots for children from six months to two years to five years.
Recently the ministry received complaints of counterfeit flu medicine, particularly Oseltamivir, having greatly spread in the country particularly the northern region amid news of a dire shortage.
Chonlanan has ordered an investigation while confirming that there is no shortage of this medicine.
The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation is rushing to increase production of Oseltamivir at 30 and 45 milligramme doses to ensure sufficient supply to various medical facilities nationwide.
Moreover, a 75-mg dose of this medicine will be available sometime this month, with doctors also having the option of treating patients with alternative medicine Favipiravir.
Dr. Narong Aphikulwanich, acting secretary-general of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said investigation revealed that the counterfeit flu medicine was smuggled from other countries and had not been registered here.
FDA is moving to crackdown and suppress the distribution of counterfeit medicine including taking legal action.
Two registered Oseltamivir brands are available, Tamiflu at 75 mg dose and GPO A-FLU at 30, 45 and 75 mg doses produced by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization.
Top and Front Page: Flu patients. Photos: Thai Rath
Insert: Public Health Minister Cholanan Srikaew. Photo: Thai Rath