Do not stockpile flu drugs, state says


POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

State health officials are asking the public not to stockpile prescription antiviral drugs to treat swine flu.

State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said based on reports, residents are asking their physicians for the drugs.

At a news conference yesterday, Park said stockpiling could take the medicine from those who need it. People who take the drug without confirming they have the flu are wasting the medicine.

Moreover, self-medicating incorrectly could delay treatment of other illnesses and would not prevent swine flu.

Park said based on reports, she does not think the attempts to stockpile are widespread.

Park said a handful of people in Hawaii, including one person who had visited Mexico, are being tested for the swine flu, but there have been no confirmed cases.

Park said the state did test a reported case during the weekend, and the results were negative.

The United States has had 64 confirmed cases of swine flu, including five patients who have been hospitalized, officials said.

Responding to criticisms that the state was not doing enough to screen visitors, Park said Hawaii was the only state conducting screening at the airports.

State officials extended a passive-screening program Friday to include visitors on domestic flights, in addition to international flights.

Under the passive program, members of the flight crew who have undergone flu detection training identify potential swine flu passengers and refer them to state health officials for medical evaluation.

A toll-free Swine Flu Hotline has been established. Call (866) 767-5044.