Deaths and drug resistance cast doubt over use of Tamiflu

Source: Financial Times

Date: 22/12/2005

All national newspapers today report the news that the New England Journal of Medicine has published new reports of resistance to the bird-flu drug Tamiflu and deaths of patients in Vietnam. Four out of eight patients suffering from the H5N1 strain of the virus and treated with Tamiflu died, including two who developed resistance to the drug. One of the patients was treated at an early stage of infection, when Tamiflu is supposed to be most effective. The deaths in Vietnam have provoked new questions about the drug, which has been ordered by more than 50 governments in recent months as a potential prophylactic and treatment in the case of a bird flu pandemic.

An accompanying article in the Journal reinforced calls for alternative approaches to treatment for a pandemic, including the stockpiling of the rival drug zanamivir, or Relenza.