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Two patients with avian flu, who were treated with Roche's Tamiflu, developed resistance to the drug and died, according to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
The NEJM article examined the outcome of eight Vietnamese patients diagnosed with H5N1 influenza strain, known as avian or bird flu, and treated with Roche's Tamiflu.
The article showed that four patients lived and four died, suggesting that Tamiflu still has the potential to successfully treat patients infected with avian flu.
However, the NEJM article also suggests that H5N1 can become resistant to Tamiflu when used at current doses.
One of the patients, a 13-year-old girl, died despite receiving Tamiflu within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, when the drug is believed to be most effective.
David Reddy, Roche's influenza-pandemic task-force leader said in a Wall Street Journal report today that the NEJM article is "a very good basis for learning and determining what we can glean from this and what additional work needs to be done."
Reddy also said that Roche is hoping soon to begin, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health, a study in humans who become infected with avian flu to see if a doubling of the current dose is more effective.