Tamiflu-Resistant Flu Found In Three World Regions

Swine flu resistant to Roche Holding AG’s antiviral drug Tamiflu has been detected in at least three world regions, raising concern the pandemic virus is developing immunity to the medicine, health officials said.

The drug-resistant cases “need to be watched,” though recommended use of Tamiflu hasn’t changed, said Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.The H1N1 virus is infecting a younger population than seasonal flu and causing potentially fatal complications in otherwise healthy people ages 30 to 50, pregnant women and those with asthma, diabetes and obesity, the World Health Organization said.

“The possibility of an anti-viral resistant strain emerging is a serious consideration,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at the conference. “To date, anti-viral medications have proven effective against the disease in most cases.”

Last week, Hong Kong’s health department said Tamiflu- resistant swine flu was found in a 16-year-old U.S. girl who hadn’t taken the pill. It was the first known instance of resistance in a swine flu patient not treated with Tamiflu, stockpiled by governments worldwide to fight pandemic influenza. The teen’s flu was diagnosed after she flew from San Francisco to Hong Kong. Cases of Tamiflu-resistant flu have also been reported in Denmark and Japan.

About 94,500 cases  of the illness have been confirmed by laboratory tests worldwide, the World Health Organization reported on its Web site. About 1,000 virus samples have been tested for drug- resistance, and only the three samples tested resistant to Tamiflu, the WHO said.

Roche’s Tamiflu, a pill, and GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s flu drug Relenza, an inhaled powder, reduce the severity and the duration of influenza symptoms by 24 to 30 hours if treatment is started within the first two days of illness, according to the companies.

Source: www.bloomberg.com

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