Monday, November 23, 2009

Doctors issue caution in using antivirals for H1N1

As public health officials urge more rapid use of antivirals for H1N1, some experts worry the drugs could become over-prescribed for what is a relatively mild illness in most people.

More than one million antiviral doses have been drawn from the federal stockpile in recent months, and the number of prescriptions filled by Canadian retail drugstores for Tamiflu and Relenza, the frontline drugs being used in the pandemic, nearly doubled between September and October.

As of Oct. 30, 151,688 prescriptions had been dispensed by retail pharmacists nationwide so far this year -- an increase of 73,291 prescriptions over September, according to prescription-drug-tracking firm IMS Health Canada.

Nationally, the number of visits to doctors for flu-like symptoms are at levels not seen in 12 years.

The World Health Organization is recommending that people in at-risk groups, including pregnant women, children under two and those with underlying conditions such as asthma, be treated with antivirals as soon as possible when they have flu symptoms, and that people without risk factors should also be treated if their symptoms worsen or persist. ...more

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