Countries Should Stock up on Anti-Flu Agent

Aug. 15, 2005-- Posted at 3:20 PM CDT

 (HealthDay News) -- Countries should stockpile zanamivir as an anti-influenza agent as part of their preparations for a possible avian flu pandemic, according to an article in the Aug. 13 issue of The Lancet.

Prof. Kenneth Tsang, of the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues wrote that many governments have already stockpiled large amounts of another neuraminidase inhibitor drug called oseltamivir. But they noted that zanamivir has a similar effectiveness, fewer side effects and a favorable resistance profile when compared with oseltamivir.

Therefore, governments should consider also stockpiling zanamivir as part of their emergency plans for a possible pandemic, Tsang and his colleague suggested.

They also wrote that: "Actual logistics for giving out antivirals to patients and close contacts need to be efficient and completed within 48 hours. It seems more appropriate for community-based health-care personnel or even pharmacists, rather than hospital based health-care workers, to handle such procedures."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about influenza (www.cdc.gov ).

 -- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Aug. 11, 2005

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