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Stockpiling Tamiflu is not a remedy

October 10, 2005

Re "A $3.9-billion first strike," Opinion, Oct. 7

The Bush administration seems intent on perfecting its bungling. Stockpiling Tamiflu, the only drug that has any effect on the avian flu, for "distribution" is a prescription for disaster. To be effective, the drug must be taken within 36 hours of contracting the flu. Getting to a doctor, being diagnosed, having the drug prescribed, then actually getting the drug would stretch way beyond that timeframe for almost everyone.

The money would be better spent on developing a fast and accurate test and making the drug available over the counter. The test could be available at public heath agencies and neighborhood pharmacies for free. Spit on a paper, see a positive reaction and be handed the drug by the pharmacist.

Millions of lives would be saved and the spread of the disease lessened. As the Bush administration seems to be handling it, should the avian flu mutate to human-to-human transmission, it will be New Orleans, only without the music and food, just a lot of dead people and a fractured worldwide economy.

DAVID ALEXANDER

Garden Grove

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