Oseltamivir and Zanamivir

Concerns regarding a build-up of resistance to antiviral drugs used to treat swine flu are surfacing, after two such drugs — Oseltamivir and Zanamivir — were taken off the restrictive Schedule X of the Drugs and Comestics Rules. 

About Oseltamivir and Zanamivir:

  • Oseltamivir and Zanamivir are antiviral drugs that block the actions of influenza virus types A and B in the body.
  • While Oseltamivir is available as tablets, Zanamivir comes in powder form.

Mains Point:

The government’s decision was mixed. “It is good, because when H1N1 cases are on the rise, the drug will be available to patients easily. However, it could backfire because in India, we don’t use caution. The doctors will prescribe these drugs so widely that eventually it will stop working.”

Central health authorities have also advised doctors to prescribe the drugs based on strong symptoms, without opting for the swab test. Medical experts say these decisions could lead to misuse and eventually, severe drug resistance.


  • Drugs under Schedule X require three copies of prescription for the doctor, patient and chemist, and can be sold by a chemist who holds a special Schedule X licence. Also, the chemist has to preserve the prescription copy for up to three years.
  • In Schedule H1, only one copy of the prescription is required, and drugs in this category can be sold by all chemists.

Points to remember:

  • Bacteria mutate much faster than viruses
  • Resistance should be a cause of concern when there is a spurt in H1N1 cases.


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