BASEL 22nd June 2007 -- Treatment with the oral antiviral Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and prophylaxis for people exposed to infected patients could be one of the most cost-effective strategies for reducing illness and death during an influenza pandemic. According to modelling research presented by Beate Sander, University of Toronto, Canada, a stockpile of Tamiflu sufficient to cover 65% of a countrys population could cut deaths by approximately half. This study was announced at the leading influenza conference, Options for the Control of Influenza VI, in Toronto.1
The reality is that country stockpiles of Tamiflu are limited and are targeted at treatment only rather than treatment and prevention.2 However, some governments are now planning for sufficient antiviral stockpiles that will allow them to provide Tamiflu preventatively to close contacts of infected individuals.
The disease modelling research analysed for the first time the cost-effectiveness of strategies to reduce the spread of pandemic influenza using Tamiflu prophylactically. It was predicted that this preventative approach is likely to be more cost-effective than treating symptomatic patients alone and may be an effective and cost-saving measure for reducing the impact of pandemic influenza.1 This research is supported by an earlier analysis that indicates that a prevention strategy using Tamiflu may help contain a pandemic outbreak.3
The study also predicts that if the stockpile is increased so that there is an unlimited supply of Tamiflu for treating symptomatic patients and for preventing infection in people exposed to these patients (household contacts and school/work contacts), illness attack rates and deaths could potentially be reduced by more than half when compared to no intervention. This equates to a cost saving of $70,000 per 1,000 population which would save $21 billion in the US alone versus no intervention. Adding other strategies such as school closures fur
Contact: Lucy Rispin