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Hope for experimental flu drug


Successful tests of an experimental flu drug have raised hopes a new medicine could be on the way to fight the illness.

Scientists say the new intravenous drug peramivir works as well as Tamiflu for clearing up flu symptoms.

An intravenous treatment is needed because many sick people cannot swallow Tamiflu pills and because illness hampers the body’s ability to absorb oral medicines. It was tested in a large group of people with ordinary seasonal flu in Asia.

Meanwhile, other new studies have provided the strongest evidence yet that early treatment with flu medicines can save lives and not just shorten illness by about a day as some health professionals believe.

In one study of hundreds of people across the globe made ill by bird flu, half of those treated with Tamiflu survived, but almost 90% of those not given antiviral drugs died.

The findings were reported at an American Society for Microbiology conference in California.

Copyright Press Association 2009

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