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“The use of antivirals, including Tamiflu in any potential influenza pandemic, will be based on the advices of the World Health Organisation (WHO), European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), the EU Health Security Committee and Pandemic Influenza Expert Group (PIEG),” said a Department spokesperson.
“No decision has been taken on the purchase or stockpiling of antivirals. This decision will be taken in the context of the revision of the national pandemic influenza plan and the latest international information and guidance.”
The Department indicated that the HSE should be contacted in relation to when the current Tamiflu stockpile expires. However, at the time of going to press, the HSE had not provided any update on whether the expiration date on the Tamiflu stockpiles had been passed.
In May last year, the Executive told the Medical Independent (MI) that the Tamiflu stock held by the State was due to expire by the end of 2016 or early 2017.
“The Tamiflu stock is due to expire in late 2016/2017,” an Executive spokesperson told MI at the time. “Discussions are ongoing [around] whether further stockpiles are needed.”
Last week, the Department said “it is not possible to estimate the cost of renewing any stockpile in advance of any procurement process and a decision, based on expert advice, on the at-risk groups who should receive antivirals in any future pandemic”.
MI reported in February 2014 that the HSE had €2.5 million worth of Tamiflu then in stock.
The drug’s effectiveness has been questioned by some medical organisations and publications in recent years.
“The safety and effectiveness of medicinal products is a matter for the Health Products Regulatory Authority and the European Medicines Agency,” said the Department’s spokesperson.
“The WHO and ECDC continue to recommend the use of antivirals, including Tamiflu, during the influenza season. The Department of Health endorses this advice.”