Muslims should avoid consuming Tamiflu capsules and must instead either use the suspension form or open the capsule and consume the contents of the capsule without ingesting the capsule itself.
Are Tamiflu capsules permissible for Muslims to use?
Tamiflu, and its generic equivalent oseltamivir, is an influenza neuraminidase inhibitor that is used for the treatment and prevention of influenza infections[i]. The medication is available in capsule and suspension forms. The suspension does not contain any Islamically unlawful ingredients and is therefore permissible for Muslims to use[ii]. The capsule form contains porcine gelatin in the capsule, which is considered Islamically unlawful to consume by most Islamic scholars[iii]. According to Islamic jurisprudence, medications with unlawful ingredients are not permissible to use unless certain conditions are met. A Muslim patient can only use impermissible medication when instructed to do so by an experienced doctor (thereby making him certain that a cure can be expected from the medication), and when an alternative permissible medication is not available[iv].
In the case of Tamiflu capsules, permissible alternatives exits. As stated above, the suspension form is permissible to use as it lacks unlawful ingredients. Even if the capsule form has to be used due to lack of availability or tolerance for the suspension, the capsule can be opened and the contents within the capsule can be consumed, thereby avoiding the impermissible pork gelatin used in the capsule. As per the FDA[v]:
“If liquid Tamiflu is not available and you have capsules that give the right dose (30 mg, 45 mg or 75 mg), you may pull open the Tamiflu capsules and mix the powder with a small amount of sweetened liquid such as regular or sugar-free chocolate syrup. You don’t have to use chocolate syrup but thick, sweet liquids work best at covering up the taste of the medicine.”
Therefore, Muslims should avoid consuming Tamiflu capsules and must instead either use the suspension form or open the capsule and consume the contents of the capsule without ingesting the capsule itself.
And Allah Knows Best
Mufti Adil Farooki, MD
Approved by Mufti Abdul Muqtadir Sikander
[i] BMJ. 2003;326(7401):1235
[iii] for a discussion of porcine gelatin, see the following: https://muslimmed.org/2019/10/29/islamically-permissible-influenza-vaccines-available-in-the-us-for-2019-2020-season/
[iv] For a detailed discussion on medications with unlawful ingredients, see the following: https://muslimmed.org/category/general-articles/medication-with-unlawful-ingredients/