The Herald
July 27, 2009

[efoods]Elderly people with swine flu should be treated as the lowest priority for antiviral drugs in a bid to preserve stocks for the younger population, according to new research.

The controversial view was published yesterday by an Italian scientist who claimed that distributing drugs such as Tamiflu to those over 65 has little effect on the spread of the infection or on mortality rates.

Age Concern said last night that older people were at high risk of complications if infected with swine flu and should receive antiviral treatment.

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However, halting the prescription of the drugs for the over 65s could be the most effective way to save lives and prevent illness, the report by Stefano Merler, of the Bruno Kessler Foundation, an Italian research organisation found.

The research was carried out to establish the most effective way to distribute antivirals after it emerged that Italy has only enough Tamiflu to prescribe 12% of the population, around half of the supply recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Scotland has enough of the drug to cover 50% of the population, it was confirmed last night.

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