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'Tamiflu' antiviral drug, England, 2009

‘Tamiflu’ is the brand name of the antiviral drug Oseltamivir and is manufactured by pharmaceutical company Roche. These two cartons contain the paediatric dose (30mg) of Tamiflu to combat the H1N1 strain of influenza virus - the virus is commonly known as swine flu. They were prescribed to a seven year-old boy in October 2009. Swine flu is a respiratory disease with symptoms similar to standard flu. It shares elements of a disease seen in pigs and is spread through sneezing or coughing. Swine flu can be fatal in extreme cases. Tamiflu was distributed by the government’s National Pandemic Flu Service under strict controls. The government stockpiled enough antiviral drugs for 33 million people to avoid a pandemic - approximately half the population of Great Britain. This may seem overly cautious. However, over 40% of the worldwide population were infected and over 50 million people died during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic.

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Glossary: influenza

A highly contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system. Common symptoms of the disease are chills and fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort. In more serious cases, influenza may cause pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Glossary: pandemic

An epidemic that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population.

Glossary: drug

Any animal, vegetable, or mineral substance used in the composition of medicines. They affect the structure or function of a living organism.

Glossary: swine flu

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Glossary: antiviral

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