Expired Tamiflu given to patients still effective, inquiry finds

Inquiry into use of expired Tamiflu to patients at Mater Dei reveals that medication still effective, health minister Chris Fearne reveals

The Tamiflu medicine administered to patients at Mater Dei Hospital was still effective, despite being past it ‘best by’ date, as proven through scientific testing, Health minister Chris Fearne said on Tuesday.

Fearne, who was delivering a ministerial statement in parliament, said that two separate inquiries had been carried out by his ministry.

On 14 November, the minister had said he had launched an inquiry following reports that the hospital had greenlighted the distribution of Tamiflu which was already expired.

He had said then that he had not been notified beforehand of the decision but added that Tamiflu was not one of the medicines the government was bound to provide.

Fearne had explained it was accepted general practice in healthcare to use reserve stock in the case of a shortfall in ready supply, in cases of emergency.

He reported on Tuesday that, in the case of Tamiflu (Oseltamivir), the inquiry concluded that the analysis carried out by the doctors was correct and that although it was past its ‘best by date’, the medicine was not expired and had saved lives.

“This was proven by scientific tests carried out by a certified independent laboratory which showed that the Tamiflu batch used was 96.5% efficieny and contained 0.29% impurities,” Fearne said.

He explained that the accepted levels for a medicine to be considered good for use were 90% of efficiency or higher and a maximum of 3.0% impurities.

Fearne said the analysis had been carried out on 16 December, on pills from the same batch used in the cases mentioned.

He said the board of inquiry had identified some administration processes that needed to be strengthened and addressed so that the procurement process could function better.

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