New studies have determined that strains of the flu virus are evolving to resist the effects of antiviral drugs. Maggie Fox of Reuters is on it:
The resistance also varies by strain, with a quarter of H1N1 flu viruses resistant in Europe and about 11 percent of H1N1 in the United States, but far fewer cases of H3N2 and influenza B viruses.Who’s to blame? No doubt unhealthy populations don’t help the problem, but pharmaceutical companies are guilty too. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Their findings show that flu viruses -- already known to mutate speedily -- may be even more unpredictable than anyone thought.
Experts fear drugs may become quickly useless to fight an unusually severe flu season or the emergence of a new strain of flu that may cause a pandemic. They have been stressing the need to develop new flu drugs and also quicker and better ways to make vaccines.
The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been collecting samples of the annual flu viruses to check them against the four available flu drugs: amantadine and rimantadine, and the newer drugs Tamiflu and Relenza.
Drug companies are a big part of this problem. They promote the use of their products through widespread advertising and the practice of giving free samples of the more potent, broad-spectrum antibiotics to doctors. The more widely these newer (and often ten times more expensive) antibiotics are used, the greater the chances that the bacteria will develop resistance.Besides, drugs like Tamiflu aren’t the super drugs people perceive them to be. More from Fuhrman:
A drawback to Tamiflu and the others is that it takes time to diagnose the flu and by the time one gets to a doctor for an accurate diagnosis, you have passed the window in which the medications are effective. Hundreds of thousands of doses of Tamiflu will be prescribed and in more than 90 percent of instances, it will be used after the period when it has any potential to help. People will be increasing their risk of medication-caused side effect, without any potential benefit.Personally, I think increasingly unhealthy populations do a lot to fuel the severity of major flu epidemics. Dr. Fuhrman again:
The flu is a simple viral illness which a healthy body has scores of adequate defenses against. No flu, including the bird flu, is any match for a well-nourished immune system.For more flu news, check out DiseaseProof’s Cold & Flu category.