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Tamiflu Not More Effective in Double Dose: Study Finds

Update Date: May 31, 2013 12:23 AM EDT

New research showed there are no added health advantages to taking a double dose Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) when dealing with the flu, even though several doctors prescribe a double dose for patients who have more severe cases.

"Our findings do not support routine use of double doses to treat severe flu infections, which could help to conserve drug stocks in the event of a pandemic," said Jeremy Farrar, director of the South East Asia Infectious Disease Clinical Research Network, Reuters noted.

Doctors at 13 hospitals in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam tested the idea on 326 patients with severe flu symptoms. The researchers found that doubling the dose did not ease the duration of the illness, lessen virus levels or alter the risk of death compared with the standard dose, they reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Following the rise of the H7N9 strain of bird flu that has already killed 36 people in China, some people have begun stockpiling the Tamiflu in anticipation of an impending epidemic.

The H7N9 has not been able to spread easily from person to person and cases of the disease are receding, although experts are concerned that H7N9 may be able to develop resistance to Tamiflu rapidly.

Tamiflu was first approved in 1999 and is distributed in the United States by Genentech, part of Roche. It was co-developed by Gilead Sciences. Its most common side effects include vomiting and diarrhea.

The study took place between April 2007 and February 2010. It was funded by the Wellcome Trust, U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the Singapore National Medical Research Council.

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