The patients who suffer from bird-flu may require higher doses of Tamiflu, than what Roche Holding AG had recommended, according to officials belonging to the World Health Organization (WHO). If Tamiflu were to be administered within 48 hours of the symptoms, then the duration and severity of the illness can be reduced.
The drug is being stockpiled across the world to treat the H5N1, in anticipation of a flu pandemic. Clinical trials are due to start in early 2006 in several countries to see if raising the recommended dose by 100% will be more effective on patients. The higher doses are also reportedly safe. Standard recommended doses have failed to cure some patients. The higher dose is being evaluated by the US based National Institutes of Health and WHO with the cooperation of Roche.
The doctors in Vietnam have already been instructed to lengthen the treatment time from 5 days to 7 days for Tamiflu. There have been instances in Asia where patients died in spite of the drug being administered to them, and the reason for this is as yet unknown. One of the reasons for this could be that 48 hours had elapsed before treatment commenced. The Tamiflu trial will involve administering 150 milligrams of the drug for five days, twice a day, instead of the recommended 75 milligrams.
The virus is also reported to be multiplying to higher levels when compared to other normal human viruses, and a resistant virus has also been emerging, making it necessary to administer a higher dosage of the medicine.
A total of 15 localities in Vietnam have already been hit by the virus, leading to the culling of a whole flock of ducks. Across the nation, poultry deaths due to the virus have been reported in 24 localities. Since December 2004, about 22 people in Vietnam have died of the virus. The reports of the outbreaks are hurting the country's poultry farmers. The monthly losses to the poultry industry are estimated at US$ 44 million, and the media which is controlled by the Government, is being blamed for this for its inaccurate reports.