11 Apr 2014

Still place for flu anti-virals - doctor

11:07 am on 11 April 2014

A leading infectious disease expert says New Zealand should not stop using the anti-flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, despite a study showing they are not as effective as advertised.

Research published in the British Medical Journal shows the drugs shorten flu symptoms by half a day and do nothing to stop the spread of the disease.

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Immunisation Advisory Centre director Nikki Turner, told Morning Report the study focused on the effects of the drugs on seasonal flu in healthy people, not a pandemic situation.

Dr Turner said New Zealand should review its use of anti-virals but shouldn't stop buying the medicines altogether.

"Certainly it's time to think again about our pandemic flu strategy in New Zealand; the role of stockpiling anti-virals," she said.

"But I don't think it's the total answer that we just stop using anti-virals. We're just a lot more cautious and much more aware now they are very limited in what they offer."