Tamiflu can be used for up to seven years in the event of a pandemic and not just five as normally recommended, European experts said on Friday, while also urging its use for babies and pregnant women.
The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) said the shelf-life of Tamiflu, one of two drugs being used to treat swine flu, along with Relenza, made by GlaxoSmithKline, is two years longer than stated.
"Tamiflu capsules that are already on the market may be used for up to two more years after their current five-year expiry date during a declared pandemic," it said in a statement.
"Patients who have Tamiflu capsules that have recently expired should not dispose of them because they might be needed during a novel influenza A/H1N1 pandemic," added the London-based agency.
Tamiflu, made by Swiss pharmaceutical group Roche, is being stockpiled by governments around the world in preparation for a feared global pandemic of swine flu, which has killed more than 40 people in Mexico.
The EMEA meanwhile gave specific advice for use of Tamiflu in the case of a pandemic for babies and expectant mothers, who are usually advised not to take it.
"The benefits of the use of Tamiflu outweigh its risks in the treatment of children under the age of one," said the agency, which came to the same conclusion for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
"Doctors should carefully consider the benefits and risks for each patient," it added.