The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has issued a notification under Section 26 E of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, allowing regulated retail sale of Zanamivir and Oseltamivir Phosphate (or Tamiflu) used for treating A(H1N1) influenza.

Prior to this, the retail sale of Oseltamivir Phosphate was banned by the Centre and its distribution was allowed only through public health institutions. There was no restriction, however, on the retail sale of Zanamivir.

Taking into account the current spread of the A(H1N1) influenza in the country, the Ministry decided that the retail sale of Oseltamivir Phosphate and Zanamivir should be allowed in a regulated manner.

After issue of the notification, only chemists who have the license to sell, stock or distribute drugs specified under Schedule X of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, would be authorised to sell the drugs against proper medical prescriptions.

Pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the drugs have been kept in a state of readiness to roll them out into the retail market after the issue of the notification.

Both drugs are expected to be available within the next five to seven days. State governments have also been advised to augment the number of chemists with Schedule X licences by granting the licences expeditiously.

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