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British stockpiled flu drug may be useless
LONDON, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The virus that causes avian influenza in humans appears to be developing resistance to an anti-viral drug the British government has stockpiled
The Department of Health spent 186 million pounds ($329 million) on 14.6 million courses of Tamiflu, the Times of London reported. If the H5N1 virus becomes resistant to the anti-viral, the Tamiflu would be useless.
About 100 people worldwide have died of avian influenza, mostly in Southeast Asia -- and almost all have worked directly with poultry and had contact with infected birds. Health experts fear if the flu strain mutates so it can be spread person-to-person, the world could face a disaster like the influenza pandemic at the end of World War I.
Because influenza viruses mutate so readily, vaccines are difficult to develop. British authorities hoped the Tamiflu could be used to contain an epidemic until a vaccine was found.
Copyright 2005 by United Press