Officials Fear Flu Drug Resistance

Misuse of antivirals by panicked public could breed stronger strains of disease
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2009 6:40 AM CDT
Officials Fear Flu Drug Resistance
South Korean quarantine officials check on Tamiflu supplies at Incheon International airport, South Korea, Tuesday, April 28, 2009.   (AP Photo/Yonhap, Lee Jung-hoon)

Pharmacies are stocking up on Tamiflu and other anti-influenza drugs as fears grow of a swine flu outbreak, but health officials warn that the antivirals could do more harm than good if administered incorrectly. Taking the drugs in the wrong dose or for too short a time can lead to the development of new, drug-resistant strains, reports the Los Angeles Times.

This weekend Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the release of 12 million doses of Tamiflu and Relenza, another antiviral, to states in need. The drugs can prevent infection before exposure and can treat those already ill, but officials warns against self-medicating. "You don't want to get panicked about this and start taking Tamiflu willy-nilly," said one doctor. (More Tamiflu stories.)

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