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 email@example.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.