Pandemic Flu antiviral drugs factsheet

  • Antiviral drugs are special medicines for the treatment of certain viral infections including influenza
  • Antiviral drugs can play an important role in treating pandemic flu
  • Antiviral drugs are not a cure for flu, nor will they prevent flu 
  • Antiviral drugs may shorten the duration of the illness, alleviate symptoms and reduce complications and serious illness 
  • Treatment can shorten the illness by a day and reduce hospitalisations by an estimated 50% (based on seasonal flu) 
  • The UK government has ordered 33 million courses of the antiviral drug Tamiflu – enough for those predicted to fall ill during a pandemic 
  • During a pandemic, antivirals will be for treatment only 
  • To be effective, antivirals must be taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms

Source: Department of Health