Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Potential Risks Associated with the Proposed Widespread Use of Tamiflu

Andrew C. Singer,1 Miles A. Nunn,1 Ernest A. Gould,1 and Andrew C. Johnson2

1Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Oxford, United Kingdom; 2Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford, United Kingdom

Background: The threat of pandemic influenza has focused attention and resources on virus surveillance, prevention, and containment. The World Health Organization has strongly recommended the use of the antiviral drug Tamiflu both to treat and prevent pandemic influenza infection. A major concern for the long-term efficacy of this strategy is to limit the development of Tamiflu-resistant influenza strains. However, in the event of a pandemic, hundreds of millions of courses of Tamiflu, stockpiled globally, will be rapidly deployed. Given its apparent resistance to biodegradation and hydrophilicity, oseltamivir carboxylate (OC) , the active antiviral and metabolite of Tamiflu, is predicted to enter receiving riverwater from sewage treatment works in its active form.

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