India wants to ban retail sales of generic flu drugs

India is considering a ban on retail sales of a generic bird flu drug, fearing the disease could develop resistance if taken by people who are not infected by the lethal H5N1 virus, a health official said Thursday. Two Indian pharmaceutical companies are currently making generic copies of Tamiflu, a patented drug from Swiss drug maker Roche that has been the most effective in treating the worst symptoms of Avian flu in human beings.

One of companies, Cipla Ltd., said Wednesday it has started shipping the drug to pharmacies, but a senior Health Ministry official said the government might stop such shipments. A final decision has yet to be made.

India reported its first confirmed outbreak of bird flu last week and health officials are awaiting test reports to see if any humans were infected by the deadly H5N1 virus.

The government fears people would panic and start taking the pills regardless of whether they had been infected with the H5N1 virus, said the official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. Cipla officials were not immediately available for comment, reports the AP.


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