Anti-Flu Drugs Losing Punch

This is because influenza B viruses are not inherently programmed to result in pandemic spread in the same manner as influenza A viruses -- so it is unlikely that we need to prepare for a bird flu-like scare caused by influenza B.

Additionally, since this study was conducted in Japan, where Tamiflu use is much more common, "There are no immediate implications for anti-viral treatment in the U.S., but this is a yellow caution light," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of the department of preventative medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Resistance Still Rare, but Monitored

Though resistant strains of flu are being reported, resistance to Tamiflu is generally rare and is "continually and very closely monitored," according to Roche spokesperson Terry Hurley. He adds that anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu are still "an essential part of any pandemic flu plan," and maintain their position as heavyweight fighters against flu.

Most importantly, the results of this study emphasize that anti-viral agents such as Tamiflu, Relenza and any other anti-viral drugs to be developed in the future should be used carefully in order to limit resistance.

And preventative measures, such as getting regular yearly flu shots, remain particularly important.

"The study reminds us that the treatment of influenza, although important, is not as effective as its prevention," Shaffner said. "We need to continue, indeed increase, research to create more effective influenza vaccines and improve methods of rapid vaccine production and delivery."

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