Research news: June 2009
PLoS Medicine 2009, doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000085
Most countries are currently stockpiling a single antiviral, oseltamivir, to use against potentially pandemic influenza viruses including swine flu. Governments will also need a smaller supply of an alternative antiviral to help prevent the spread of drug resistance, say researchers.
In their mathematical model, using a “spare” drug at the start of a pandemic curbed the spread of resistance to the primary drug (oseltamivir), reduced the overall attack rate of the virus, and reduced the proportion of the population infected by resistant strains. Two strategies seemed to work equally well—using the spare drug and the primary drug in combination until the spare drug ran out; and using up the spare drug first before distributing the primary drug. A small stockpile of zanamivir or even amantadine might be enough to prevent resistance to oseltamivir emerging early and spreading further, the researchers conclude. Early use of a spare