Roche Announces Tamiflu® Will be in Ample Supply for 2007-2008 Flu Season
Roche announced today that ample supplies of its prescription antiviral medication Tamiflu® (oseltamivir phosphate) will be widely available this flu season in pharmacies nationwide. Tamiflu is indicated for the treatment and prevention of influenza in adults and children one year and older and has been prescribed to more than 50 million influenza patients worldwide. Available in a capsule and liquid suspension form, Tamiflu is the only oral antiviral medication recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for influenza treatment and prevention during the 2007-2008 flu season.[i]
“People often confuse Tamiflu with vaccines, but it is a prescription medication taken orally, as a capsule or liquid, and is an important adjunct to vaccine in fighting flu,” said Dominick Iacuzio, Ph.D, medical director at Roche.
“Unlike the influenza vaccine, which is reformulated each year to work against three specific strains of the virus, Tamiflu is designed to be active against all clinically relevant influenza virus strains. Because Tamiflu prevents the influenza virus from spreading inside the body, it has to be given within the first 48 hours of flu symptoms in order to be effective. This means that people need to call the doctor quickly for Tamiflu treatment as soon as flu symptoms arise.”
Although vaccine is the first line of defense against the flu, antivirals like Tamiflu are available to treat the flu and reduce the duration of symptoms. According to the CDC, “Your doctor may recommend use of an antiviral medication to help treat the flu. These are prescription medications, and a doctor should be consulted before the drugs are used. Antiviral treatment lasts for five days and must be started within two days of illness. Therefore, if you get flu-like symptoms, seek medical care early.”[ii]
Additionally, antiviral medications such as Tamiflu can be given prophylactically to people who have been exposed to influenza to help contain the spread in certain settings, such as family members passing the virus to one another in a household. Preventive doses of Tamiflu following exposure to the flu virus can also be considered for controlling outbreaks in closed or semi-closed settings, such as nursing homes or dormitories. Clinical trials indicate that Tamiflu is up to 92 percent effective in preventing flu in adults – and 82 percent effective in preventing flu in children – when taken within 48 hours of exposure to the virus.
The CDC also states that people who cannot receive an influenza vaccine due to an allergy to eggs consider antiviral medication to prevent the flu.
How Tamiflu Works
Tamiflu belongs to a class of antiviral medicines called neuraminidase inhibitors (NAI), which help prevent the flu virus from spreading inside the body. Virtually all common flu viruses have the neuraminidase enzyme protein on their surface, which enables them to migrate from cell to cell, replicating and spreading throughout the body. Inhibiting the neuraminidase activity is believed to interfere with this process, possibly causing the viruses to become trapped and die out. Tamiflu is given orally and is systemically absorbed, meaning that it can reach all key sites in the body where the virus multiplies.
In addition to the 75 mg capsule currently-available, 30 mg and 45 mg capsules will be available in pharmacies nationwide during the 2007-2008 flu season.
Influenza is a serious illness that affects up to 40 million Americans every year, causing disruption to their daily lives, and leading to 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths annually.[iii] Some people, such as the elderly population, young children, and people with certain chronic health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
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