Doctors saved the life of a 22-year-old woman critically ill with swine fluby experimentally giving her a high dose of an antiviral drug directly into her bloodstream, they report today.
Relenza is licensed for use only through an inhaler, but attempts to treat the woman with the oral drug Tamiflu and Relenza in the usual way had little effect.
In the case study, published online by the Lancet medical journal, Dr Michael Kidd and Dr Mervyn Singer from University College London Hospitals call for studies to find out whether Relenza given intravenously could save more lives.
The patient, whose immune system had been compromised by chemotherapy to treat Hodgkin's disease, was taken into intensive care on 8 July. Tamiflu and antimicrobials failed to help her, and she was put on a ventilator. Eight days of Relenza through a nebuliser did not work so doctors were given permission by her relatives and the hospital to put the drug in an intravenous drip. They also gave her a corticosteroid to reduce lung inflammation.
Within 48 hours she had improved, with no drug-related side-effects. Just over three weeks after her arrival in intensive care, she was discharged.
NHS guidance has lowered the estimate of the number of swine fludeaths in the UK, putting the range from 3,000 deaths to a "worst-case scenario" of 19,000, down from 65,000 in July. There have been 70 deaths so far.
We have stocked Tamiflu antiviral at home. Ideally within 6 hours and at the very latest within 48 hours of flu symptoms we will commence Tamiflu treatment. I bought Tamiflu online (£50 per dose) from pimsreg.com registered with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) and listed in "websites displaying the internet pharmacy logo".
Update 26 July 2009: Tamiflu - currently one dose is free to people exhibiting swine flu symptons - get Tamiflu from the UK Government Pandemic Flu site.
On 1 September my son went down with, what our doctor said 'ticked all the boxes' as swine flu. After 102F, vomiting, diarohea, headaches ... and taking tamiflu (our emergency stock) and on Thursday Relenza, he seems on the mend (4 September 8pm).
Diagram of influenza virus nomenclature (for a Fujian flu virus)
Structure of the influenza virion. The hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) proteins are shown on the surface of the particle. The viral RNAs that make up the genome are shown as red coils inside the particle and bound to Ribonuclear Proteins (RNPs).