Friday, May 8, 2009

Tamiflu Costs P150.50 Per Capsule at Mercury Drug But Can You Buy It If You Need To? — And What the DOH Should Do About Tamiflu

8 May 2009

At past ten o'clock last night, after my hospital visit to Engr. Jun Lozada, I bought some groceries in one of the Mercury Drug branches in the Caloocan poblacion area.

Just before checking out at the grocery counter, I asked one of the drug counter personnel if they had Tamiflu pills available and how much.

How much?  The price stays the same, P150.50 per capsule.  Available?  Same answer, no stock.  (I've tried to ask about the availability of Tamiflu from another Mercury Drugstore outlet in the Grace Park Avenue area more than a week ago and the answers were the same: P150.50 per capsule and no stock available.) 

The counter salesclerk summoned the person appararently in charge of the drugstore and she told me that Mercury Drug normally supplies first its "flagship branches" with stocks of Tamiflu. When I asked how many "flagship branches" they have in the Caloocan poblacion area (district 2), she said one (1) and that is the branch located at the Monumento/MCU area beside Tropical Hut.  She added that Malabon City also has one "flagship branch."

What this information means is that most drugstores in the Caloocan poblacion area will have little or no supply of Tamiflu when the availability of that supply becomes necessary.

I find this information disturbing because as of yesterday, May 7, the DOH has already quarantined twelve (12) people suspected of having the H1N1 flu virus.  Of these eight have reportedly tested negative for H1N1 infection while the remaining four (4) are still under observation.

With all due respect, I don't believe the DOH has done enough to make Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) available in sufficient enough quantity just in case there is an outbreak.  Whether you agree or not with that assessment, I'd like to hear from you by either posting your comments here or emailing me at rollyocampo@yahoo.com.  I'm sure some of you have asked around about Tamiflu in your areas. Please share with us your experiences.

Before I end this post, think about this.  Full course treatment with Tamiflu requires taking 10 capsules (2 capsules per day). At P150.50 per capsule, those 10 capsules of Tamiflu costs P1,505.00, way beyond the reach of ordinary Filipinos.

Even if this vital antiviral drug is available in sufficient quantity, not many Filipinos will be able to avail of its potency.  Wherein lies the possible solution?

I'll post my answer to that question when I return.



  1. I am a firm believer in preventive medicine. If you keep your body alkalized and hydrated, you can prevent the spread of serious infection in your body. Many diseases and viruses cannot survive in a healthy, alkalized, hydrated cellular environment.

    Colloidal silver also works wonders as an anti-infective agent. I don't want to promote any specific brand, but if you do the research, you can find a trustworthy source of alkalizing minerals and colloidal silver products.

    Preventive medicine is the key to costly medical treatment expenses.

  2. Hi, Liggy, nice to hear from you!

    I'll appreciate it if you can make a post about preventive medicine and anti-infective agents in your blog and inform us so I can direct my readers to it.

    In the meantime, however, I think we've got a near-emergency in the Philippines with several possible cases of H1N1 under observation. The government needs to be ready with the anti-viral drugs like Tamiflu that could spell the difference between life and death for affected Filipinos just in case an H1N1 outbreak does materialize.

    Stay safe and God bless!

  3. can tamiflu really prevent swine flu?

  4. Based on the reports we've seen, Yes! Arianna Anastos of New York, who is featured in one of my posts here (please do a 'Tamiflu' search on this blog), reported taking two of these in the hospital after she'd been confirmed positive for H1N1 and she said she started feeling better after that. I saw her on CNN being interviewed by Anderson Cooper outside her home with her father weeks ago.

    Tamiflu is also the capsule given by the Hongkong medical authorities to about 300 hotel guests and staff of the Metro Park Hotel in Hongkong when they enforced a one-week quarantine after the Mexican male tourist who stayed in said hotel tested positive for H1N1. See my blog posts about Leslie Carr.

    The big question is, How much Tamiflu do we have and how well-positioned and how well-distributed are our stocks in the Philippines? Tamiflu costs P150.50 per pill in the Philippines but the last time I asked, Mercury Drug had no stocks available in most of the second district of Caloocan City.

    Stay safe wherever you are and God bless!

  5. Hi,
    Isn't it that DOH reported that it has 600,000 capsules on stock? Ostensibly, this would be administered free to H1N1-positive cases.

  6. Hi, WillyJ, you raised an interesting point right there!

    The question is, have we heard anything from the DOH as to exactly how they are going to distribute for free their Tamiflu or Oseltamivir stockpile?

    Let's use an analogy using a hypothetical Tami Energy Drink manufactured by Tamifoods. If you want to buy Tami Energy Drink you don't go to Tamifoods and buy 10 pcs or even a box. To do that, you go to a grocery or supermarket. If you want to buy just a sachet or two, you go to a sari-sari store. In short, you need a well-thought out and accessible distribution system to deliver your goods efficiently.

    With respect to free Tamiflu or Oseltamivir, the logical first-line distribution system would be the DOH hospitals. But how many of those have we got across our country of 7 thousand plus islands and a population of 92 million? Just a handful.

    I believe what the DOH can do is to deputize drugstore chains like The Generics Pharmacy which can help the public by serving as additional conduits of free Tamiflu or Oseltamivir capsules that would make these vital antiviral drugs accessible to the public whenever the need arises.

    As to the exact mechanics, we can discuss that with the DOH. One necessary component of those mechanics will be how doctors will issue the necessary prescriptions to the patients who need them. The important thing is to have a strategy that is not based on tsamba or the leaving to chance of the potentially life-and-death matter such as the looming H1N1 problem that we now face here.

    If you will note, that international exchange student in DLSU where classes have now been suspended for 10 days reportedly arrived in Manila on May 12 but developed H1N1 symptoms only on May 29, consulted a health facility on May 31 and was confirmed H1N1 positive subsequently.

    That leaves open the presumption that she got the infection here in the Philippines. If true, that indicates we now have community level transmission here in Manila. Add to that the case of the Filipina nurse from Manila who's been reported as the first case of H1N1 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. If she got infected here, can we still deny that we have community-level transmission here, locally?

    I've complained several times about the secretive attitude adopted by the DOH regarding the flights which turn out to have brought H1N1 infected people in the Philippines. This is the exact opposite of what they do in other countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan where they immediately publicize the flight details in order to alert the passengers who came in on those flights into taking the necessary precautions.

    I see no reason why the DOH should have kept these flight details from the public. What is wrong about telling people the truth if that will keep them better informed to protect themselves and other people?

    Just yesterday, June 3, as she was on her way out of the Senate's last plenary session, I had a chance to talk very briefly with Senator Loren Legarda about H1N1 and I submitted copies of some of my blog posts to her office (on H1N1, on the need for a tuition fee increase moratorium and on the need for the National Historical Institute (NHI) and all Filipinos to defend the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City from further desecration).

    I hope Senator Legarda will make known publicly her views on the H1N1 issue as head of the Senate's health committee.

    Nothing should be left to chance in the battle against H1N1.

    Thank you for your comment WillyJ, stay safe and God bless to all!


If you encounter any problem posting your comment, such as the error message "Your request could not be processed. Please try again," the problem might be resolved simply by trying to resubmit the comment. Otherwise, please email me at rollyocampo@yahoo.com. Thanks a lot for visiting my blog. Have a nice day and God bless!

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