Monday, April 20, 2009

Drug Resistance Prompts Diversification of Pandemic Stockpiles

There's growing evidence of H5N1 genetic diversification and resistance to the front-line flu antiviral, Tamiflu. Pairing fears of H5N1 resistance with near universal resistance to the drug from this year's seasonal flu has led to increasing calls for diversifying pandemic drug stockpiles .

Tamiflu comprises the majority of antiviral drugs in Canadian (90%) and American (80%)stockpiles. Waning efficacy in these drugs against seasonal and H5N1 are causing concern among scientists and government officials about the usefulness of such stockpiles in a pandemic.

While older flu drugs, such as Relenza and amantadine were previously considered less effective than Tamiflu for use in a pandemic, the scientific perspective seems to be shifting.

"'I think the general view is that from a scientific perspective, greater diversification (of stockpiles) would be desirable,' says King, director general of the (Canadian) public health agency's centre for immunization and respiratory infectious diseases."

British and American officials are now considering or preparing for diversification of such stockpiles.

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