A new study concludes that approximately half of the prescriptions of Tamiflu during the 2009-10 influenza pandemic went unused in England. The unused medication represents approximately 600,000 courses of Tamiflu at a cost of around 7.8 million to the UK taxpayer. The novel scientific method used in the study could help measure and improve the effectiveness of future pandemic flu strategies.
The finding, published online this week in the open access scientific journal PLOS ONE, comes from the first study of its kind to use sewage water to estimate drug compliance rates, the degree to which a patient correctly follows medical advice to take medication. The study estimated usage of pharmaceuticals from large populations by sampling sewage and recovering the active component of Tamiflu thus measuring drugs that were actually consumed by patients, rather than those that were flushed away without being consumed.
The work was led by scientists at the UK's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology working with colleagues at Uppsala, Linnaeus and Ume Universities, Sweden, and the University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic.
Lead author Dr Andrew Singer, a Chemical Ecologist from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, says, "Influenza pandemics are rare, making a study such as this a unique and important window into how people behave during a public health emergency such as a pandemic. This study sheds new light on people's willingness to follow medical advice on antiviral usage. Importantly, this method could be used to monitor how many people take certain kinds of medicine in real time and alert national health authorities to the need for stronger public information campaigns during pandemic emergencies."
The research highlights that despite the central role of antivirals in many nations' influenza pandemic preparedness plans, there remains considerable uncertainty regarding antiviral compliance rates. Poor compliance drains resources b
|Contact: Barnaby Smith|
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology