Following up on an initial report last month, The New York Times now says that Tamiflu is
99% of all flu strains 99% ineffective against the dominant flu strain that will strike Americans this season.
Scientists and health officials do not know why. Last winter, roughly 11% of
common flu strains patients with the most common flu strain resisted showed resistance to Tamiflu, the leading antiviral drug.
No resistance to Tamiflu has been identified among other circulating viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Roche, the manufacturer.
“It’s quite shocking,” Dr. Kent A. Sepkowitz, director of infection control at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, told the Times. “We’ve never lost an antimicrobial this fast. It blew me away.”
So far, it’s not a public-health problem. Officials cite two reasons: the flu season has been below average, and the main strain is susceptible to other antivirals.
January and February are peak months for influenza.
Last month The Wall Street Journal reported that the CDC had alerted doctors about Tamiflu’s apparent ineffectiveness and urged them to prescribe an additional drug.
The Food and Drug Administration has more information about Tamiflu.
WebMD, citing the CDC, reports the first flu-related death of a child this season.
Correction: In hastily summarizing the Times article, the effectiveness of Tamiflu was misstated. The headline and text have been corrected. Apologies to all. It’s another reminder of how moving at Internet speed can sometimes kill comprehension…