Where Roche's Tamiflu loses, GlaxoSmithKline wins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that one strain of this year's seasonal flu, the H1N1 virus, is increasingly resistant to Tamiflu, the leading anti-influenza treatment. So doctors should consider using Relenza, made by GlaxoSmithKline, instead, the CDC advises. Another option would be a two-drug combo of the older meds amantadine and rimantadine.
Tamiflu resistance first emerged last flu season, but it's getting worse: CDC said 49 of 50 H1N1 viruses tested this year are resistant. But all of the tested H1N1 viruses remained vulnerable to Relenza, amantadine and rimantadine. So far, the H1N1 viral strain has been predominant in many areas, but other types are circulating, too. Doctors should review surveillance data to determine which flu virus strains are circulating locally and then decide which antiviral to use, the agency recommends.
GlaxoSmithKline rushed to put out a press release saying that it's prepared with enough Relenza to supply the 2008-2009 flu season. "Relenza is a preferred medication in the CDC-issued interim recommendations for all circulating subtypes of influenza virus," the company said.