Flu outbreak is tonic for medicine sales

Flu outbreak is tonic for medicine sales

A spike in flu cases, leading to an increase in fever and respiratory infections across India, has caused a spurt in the sales of antibiotics, cough syrups and anti-infectives, according to the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD). Having risen last month, the surge is continuing, it said.

“Severe cough, cold, influenza infections led to the sale of medicines going up by 20-25% in February,” said Rajiv Singhal, general secretary, AIOCD, which is monitoring the situation to ensure that stocks are adequate. “We have seen a significant rise in the sales of fever medicines like paracetamol, azithromycin and cough syrups.”

PharmaTrac data shows anti-infective drug sales rose 12.5% to ₹22,883 crore in February. Respiratory drugs grew 8.1% to ₹14,880 crore last month based on Moving Annual Turnover (MAT).

According to the same data, sales of GSK antibiotic Augmentin rose 26.1% to ₹766 crore based on MAT for February. Cipla‘s Budecort, used for preventing inflammation in the lungs, rose 23.3% to ₹385 crore, while painkiller Analgesics rose 10.7% to ₹12,898 crore.

Doctors are seeing a rise in viral flu, or influenza A in India and overseas.

The H3N2 strain of influenza A is causing most of the cases in the country, they said.

Patients are complaining of fever, body ache, headache, cold, sore throat and cough, said Sandeep Budhiraja, group medical director, Max Healthcare, and senior director at its Institute of Internal Medicine. Some are presenting with a dry hacking cough, others complain of persistent coughing fits days and weeks after recovering from the infection besides hoarseness.People shouldn’t ignore infections as they may need specific therapies such as nebulisers, inhalers, bronchodilators and sometimes even short steroid courses to get better, he said.

“In a small proportion of these cases, especially those involving elderly patients and those with low immunity, the infection is going down into the chest and causing pneumonia. Some of these people then need to be admitted or hospitalised for treatment of these viral pneumonias,” he said. “So one has to be cautious and very careful, especially in children and elderly, and not take it lightly.”

Those with low immunity and having comorbidities such as cancer, diabetes or taking steroids also need to be careful.

“Patients who have heart or lung problems and people in extremes of age like children and elderly – these are the group of people who are more susceptible or more at risk of developing a more severe disease,” he said.

Observing some Covid-era protocols will help, according to Akshay Budhraja of Aakash Healthcare. People should avoid crowded places, practice good hand and respiratory hygiene, take annual flu shots, keep indoor air quality under control, wear a mask when outdoors and avoid home remedies without consultation.

(With inputs from health)