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13 cases of Tamiflu-resistant swine flu

Roche has announced that there have been 13 isolated cases of the H1N1 virus displaying resistance to Tamiflu

Roche has announced that there have been 13 isolated cases of influenza A (H1N1) virus displaying resistance to Tamiflu (oseltamivir).

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant has said that cases of resistance are likely to occur as is the case with seasonal flu, and has said it is a low percentage in line with previous clinical tests, which indicated that 0.32 per cent of adults and four per cent of children developed resistance to it.

David Reddy, leader of the company's pandemic task force noted that while it was not clear why the patients developed the resistance, there was an indication that many were only taking half a dose, adding: "If they were actually infected with the virus, the dosage of the drug may have been too low."

Roche is now recommending that doctors prescribe the treatment dose and not the prevention dose if the patient has any symptoms at all.

Those people with the resistant strain have not passed the disease on to other people and the resistant variety, like the widespread version, typically produces only mild symptoms. The 13 cases are unrelated and scattered around the world in Europe, the United States and Asia.

William Burns CEO of Roche's pharmaceutical division indicated that they were ready to increase the production of Tamiflu to 400 million individual treatment packages if needed. It was also announced that Roche is able to extend the shelf life of Tamiflu stockpiles to seven years from five, by developing a method to extract the active ingredient from expiring stockpiles and reprocess them into new capsules to save money for developing countries.

Tamiflu is one of two main antivirals in the arsenal against swine flu as the world awaits a widely-available vaccine against the disease.

8th September 2009

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