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New swine flu treatment found

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Patients who have Tamiflu-resistant viruses could benefit from an as yet unlicensed treatment for swine flu, according to doctors.

They highlighted the case of a 22-year-old woman suffering from Hodgkin’s disease who caught swine flu and was treated with an intravenous form of the antiviral Relenza. The drug is usually inhaled and is not licensed to be given intravenously.

The patient caught swine flu shortly after undergoing chemotherapy and her lungs filled with fluid. She was put on a ventilator and given Tamiflu, inhalable Relenza and other medicine, but her condition still worsened.

After gaining permission from the family and a hospital committee, doctors gave the patient an unlicensed, intravenous form of Relenza, and she soon recovered.

Michael Kidd, of University College London, and the lead author of the study which appears in the medical journal Lancet, said it provides doctors with a new route in which to treat patients that do not respond to antiviral treatment.

He said: ‘Although we now know our patient did not have Tamiflu-resistant virus, the intravenous zanamivir could potentially be used to treat such a case.’

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