The milder than originally perceived H1N1 â€œswine fluâ€ might have government officials and physicians pondering the depth of its impact, but one thing that is hard to ignore is the impact the illness has had on the pharmaceutical industryâ€™s new prescription figures.
According data issued on Monday by healthcare analytical firm SDI, new antiviral prescriptions jumped 19 times in the week after the H1N1 outbreak started getting mainstream media attention.
In the week ending May 1, more than 277,000 prescriptions of Tamiflu, Relenza, and other antivirals were dispensed at retail pharmacies. During the highest point in the 2009 flu season (week ending 2/27/2009), only 154,673 antiviral prescriptions were written.
And this doesnâ€™t include the number of prescriptions written but not filled due to patients asking doctors for scripts in advance of the onset of the flu. Antivirals prescriptions must be filled within three days of the first sign of symptoms.
In related news, FDA and the Federal Trade Commission, late last week, launched an attack against online sites boasting fraudulent cures for H1N1. More than 20 Web sites have been cited for marketing fake cures ranging from shampoos to pills to dietary supplements. FDA stated in a release the marketers are preying on peoplesâ€™ emotions during this crisis.
â€œThe last thing any consumer needs right now is to be conned by someone selling fraudulent flu remedies,â€ said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.Â â€œThe FTC will act swiftly against companies that resort to deceptive advertising.â€
To date, the only drugs approved to treat the H1N1 virus are Tamiflu and Relenza and FDA has given the okay for both drugs to be used beyond their approved labeling for emergency use.
For a full list of bogus products visit http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/h1n1flu/