The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Antivirals for Pandemic Influenza: Guidance on Developing a Distribution and Dispensing Program (2008)

Planning for an influenza pandemic, whether it occurs in the near or distant future, will need to take into account many constantly evolving factors. The Institute of Medicine Committee on Implementation of Antiviral Medication Strategies for an Influenza Pandemic was asked by the Department of Health and Human Services to consider best practices and policies for providing antiviral treatment and prophylaxis during a pandemic event. The committee’s report, entitled Antivirals for Pandemic Influenza: Guidance on Developing a Distribution and Dispensing Program, calls for a national and public process of creating an ethical framework for antiviral use within the context of uncertainty and scarcity. It is unclear whether antivirals will work against a pandemic strain as well as they work against seasonal influenza. Also, government stockpiles may not be sufficient for all possible uses in part because antivirals are costly and public health agencies must invest in other important activities, including other medical resources for pandemic influenza. Furthermore, the report identifies the lack of a science-based advisory body to guide decision making during the pandemic, including guidance on all dimensions of antiviral dispensing (for example, prioritization, drug safety, and antiviral resistance). The report also acknowledges the need for diverse methods and sites of dispensing, and discusses their advantages and disadvantages.

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What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: Major pharmaceutical companies have great interest in dedicating resources to the antibiotics market because these short-course drugs are more profitable than drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments are more profitable. Modern medicine needs new kinds of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections, but antibiotic research and development are expensive, risky, and time-consuming.

  • Correct!

    Drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments are more profitable. Modern medicine needs new kinds of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections, but antibiotic research and development are expensive, risky, and time-consuming.