Thursday, Sept 9th, 2009
With pandemic influenza cases on the rise across the country, federal public health authorities on Tuesday urged physicians to prescribe antiviral medicines to high-risk patients promptly but reminded the public that most people won’t need, and shouldn’t expect to get, the drugs if they come down with the flu.
The guidance is aimed at getting optimal benefit from Tamiflu and Relenza while preventing overuse, hoarding and shortages of the drugs, as was seen briefly during the spring outbreak of swine flu.
Specifically, authorities said, practitioners shouldn’t wait for lab tests to confirm the presence of the novel strain of the H1N1 virus before starting antivirals in high-risk patients who show symptoms of flu. The drugs work best when started within 48 hours of illness.