May 12, 2009

Most H1N1 flu patients do not require antiviral therapy to recover, but it remains important to develop a pandemic vaccine as there is a risk of future drug resistance, a World Health Organization expert said on Tuesday.

[efoods]Nikki Shindo, a medical officer with the WHO’s global flu program, said the U.N. agency would soon publish new guidance about how to treat patients with the virus that has caused mainly mild symptoms outside of Mexico.

Given most patients can recover with rest and hydration, Shindo said there did not appear to be a need to treat all people infected with the strain with Tamiflu, Relenza, and similar antiviral drugs.

Saving such stockpiles for pregnant women and patients with underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes may prove most prudent, she told a news conference.

“We will recommend to consider the use of antivirals for high risk groups,” Shindo said, while allowing that because little is known about the new strain, it was possible antiviral drug use could be reducing its impact in Europe and elsewhere.

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