Pandemic (H1N1) 2009: antiviral drugs for prevention
22 December 2009
Should individuals keep a personal stockpile of antiviral drugs?
WHO does not recommend that individuals stockpile antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir or zanamivir, unless recommended by a health care provider or other national health authority. In some instances, such authorities may provide antiviral drugs in advance to individuals at particular risk, or to those who may not have rapid access to medicines in the event of illness.
Should individuals take antiviral drugs for the prevention of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 infections?
In general, WHO does not recommend the use of antiviral drugs for prevention of pandemic influenza. For people who have had exposure to an infected person and are at a higher risk of developing severe or complicated illness, an alternative option is close monitoring for symptoms, followed by prompt early antiviral treatment should symptoms develop.
Where can individuals purchase antiviral drugs?
Antiviral drugs, such as oseltamivir and zanamivir, are generally available by prescription only, though some countries have made special arrangements during the pandemic to ensure that antiviral drugs can be made available quickly.
Antiviral drugs should only be obtained through recognized medicines suppliers (e.g.: pharmacies) and in accordance with national prescription procedures. In particular, products sold outside the authorized national medicine supply chains should not be purchased.
In addition to the need for a prescription, caution should be exercised when buying antiviral drugs over the Internet.
(updated from 6 October 2009 and 21 May 2009)