Don't panic about Tamiflu, Roche says--and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees. Both the drugmaker and the agency say they still consider the antiviral med effective against the H1N1 flu circulating the globe, despite news that a Danish patient proved resistant to the drug.
Given the fact that Tamiflu stars in flu-drug stockpiles worldwide--and that the influenza virus has proven adept at developing resistance--experts have been watching for it. And expecting it, frankly. "Such a development had to be expected, and is no surprise from a scientific point of view," David Reddy, Roche's pandemic task-force leader said on a conference call (as quoted by the Wall Street Journal).
In this particular case, however, the resistance is not the sort that sends public-health types into a panic. The Danish patient was taking the lower preventive dose to avoid contracting the virus. But Reddy said that he probably already had been infected, and the lower dose induced resistance. Doctors switched to GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza, the patient recovered, and the resistance that developed in him appears to have stopped there.
So far, so good. But virologists are continuing to watch, knowing that Tamiflu resistance spread widely in last year's seasonal flu--and that this new H1N1 "swine flu" might pick up that resistant gene from the seasonal version.