Could tamiflu cause a world wide flu pandemic

Tamiflu is the gold standard when it comes to treating strains of flu. It’s real name is Oseltamivir and it forms part of a comprehensive response to a flu outbreak. Roche, the company that makes Tamiflu, has started to grant permission for countries such as Vietnam to begin production of generic versions. The idea is that if tamiflu is used when an outbreak occurs the death rate will be smaller.

Will it, though?

An article in the Telegraph looks at how tamiflu may actually cause a drug resistant strain of the flu to emerge. Before you panic there are certain things that need to fall in place, and the science behind the theory hasn’t been proven.

Sweedish researchers found out that tamiflu isn’t processed by the body. It comes out through urine and moves into the sewage system. Current water processing processes will not clean the water of tamiflu, so it enters the ecosystem. This movement into the ecosystem is where the experts shine their light of worry.


As the Professor of Infectious Diseases with the Uppsala University and the University of Kalmar Björn Olsen says:

The biggest threat is that resistance will become common among low pathogenic influenza viruses carried by wild ducks.

This isn’t a concern in the United States, but in countries where tamiflu is used as the primary treatment for the flu it could be a growing concern. More research is needed to determine if this will be a possibility.