Decline requests for Tamiflu

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 16, 2006

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In the wake of news reports about the emergence and potential threat of avian influenza, patients are increasingly asking for prescriptions for oseltamivir to stockpile the drug in case the disease hits here, but physicians should tell them no, say several papers in the New England Journal of Medicine last month.

"An individual physician has no obligation to prescribe oseltamivir in response to a patient's request," wrote the authors of one perspective piece.

This advice comes as more and more evidence suggests that overuse of this drug is leading to the development of resistance, including one paper in the same issue of the NEJM that documented two deaths in Vietnam. Both deaths were associated with a variant of the virus that was no longer susceptible to the drug.

The American Medical Association has issued statements against stockpiling because of fears that it would lead to resistance and reduce available supplies needed if a pandemic occurs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several state public health departments also have issued guidelines calling for the drug to be prescribed primarily to treat seasonal influenza in those at the highest risk of dying.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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