New Delhi: Irrational use of swine flu drug can make the H1N1 virus resistant to the medicine making it fatal as the Tamiflu loses its efficiency, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.
The global health body has cautioned India since indiscriminate pill-popping or not completing the course of medicine as suggested by the physician is quite common in the country.
The WHO, in its warning, has said that already 12 countries, including China and Singapore, have reported cases of resistance to Tamiflu.
“The ability to constantly change is a hallmark of influenza viruses. Flu virus often change from one season to the next or they can even change within the course of one flu season. Some changes can result in the virus being resistant to one or more of the antiviral drugs that are used to treat or prevent influenza,” experts from Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and WHO said.
“Irrational use of antiviral drugs could facilitate the emergence of resistance,” they added.
Explaining the phenomenon Dr YK Gupta, head of the department of pharmacology, AIIMS said, “Resistance can be because the virus kills the drug or it learns to to live with that drug or develops multiple resistance organism to it.”
Cases of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) resistant viruses have been reported in different parts of the world with four in Japan, two each in USA, Hong Kong in China and one each in Denmark, Canada, Singapore and China.
Dr Vishwa Mohan Katoch, DG, ICMR said, “Administering Tamiflu is in the hands of the government. It has not been given to private parties. In this way, we have curbed the overdose factor. But, we are insisting that people should complete the five-day course advised to them even if they feel better off the second day.”
According to WHO experts, a person with drug-resistance to Tamiflu has the potential to spread drug resistant strains of swine flu, but so far there is no evidence of onward transmission from these cases too.
Dr Randeep Guleria, department of medicine, AIIMS said, “An alternative drug, Relenza (scientific name Zanamivir) is there but since it is in the form of a nasal drop, many would be reluctant to take it. Moreover, it has not been introduced as there is a fear that patients may become resistant to both at a time when there is no third alternative.”