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Concerted Effort Needed to Fight Drug-Resistant Flu Strain
Date:3/3/2009

Other medications could be effective, while flu shot is best bet, experts say

TUESDAY, March 3 (HealthDay News) -- The global medical community needs to find new solutions to combat the growing resistance to a major flu-fighting drug, an infectious disease expert warns.

"The startling news about oseltamivir [Tamiflu] resistance should unite the global medical and scientific communities in an effort to cope with this rapidly evolving pathogen," wrote Dr. Anne Moscona, author of a perspective piece in the March 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, and a professor of pediatrics and microbiology and immunology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City.

"For years, we have seen warning signals that highly oseltamivir-resistant influenza viruses could emerge and spread, disabling our defenses against this pathogen. Now the alarm has been sounded, and it is time to act," she added.

The good news is that there are other drugs that work against the flu strain showing resistance to Tamiflu, and your best protection is always the tried-and-true flu shot, experts say.

The resistance to Tamiflu to the H1N1 virus strain was not unexpected, according to Moscona, but the speed of the increase in resistance has been a surprise.

According to an article in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, just 12 percent of virus strains last year were resistant to the antiviral drug. This year, that figure has soared to 98 percent. Last year was the first time resistance to Tamiflu was noted at all.

The resistance seems not to be in occurring in response to overuse of the drug, as so often happens with bacteria, but is, instead, "a natural, spontaneously arising variant," Moscona wrote.

Moscona, who has received financial support from pharmaceutical companies Medimmune, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, Merck, NexBio and Shaklee, point
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