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Saturday, January 20th 2007

Tamiflu Now Even Less Effective

The antivirals targeting H5N1 have never been particularly good at what they were suppose to do. Now however, mutations in the virus in Egypt appear to confer greater antiviral resistance.

Samples taken from two bird flu patients in Egypt — a 16-year-old girl and her 26-year-old uncle — were not as responsive as regular H5N1 viruses to Tamiflu, a drug also know as oseltamivir that is used to treat the disease, the officials said.

The drug-resistant strains found in Egypt likely developed after the patients were hospitalized and treated with Tamiflu, with the virus responding directly to the drug, Hayden said. It was not proven, however, that that was the case, and a more worrying scenario would be if drug-resistant strains were already circulating among birds.

It does raise interesting questions about how the drug-resistance developed. You really would hope it developed in these individuals, independently, after they had started treatment.

Like I said however, for all the hype given by the media this really isn’t a terrible blow to the battle against avian flu, seeing as oseltamivir has really (outside the bright lights of AP stories and ABC News) been an abysmal failure for all the hope placed on it in battle H5N1.