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The 2017–2018 flu season is seeing record numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and pediatric deaths. Oseltamivir phosphate (usually shortened to oseltamivir), a prescription drug used to prevent and treat influenza, is in high demand. Best known by its trade name Tamiflu, it can be effective against influenza A and influenza B, which are genera of the Orthomyxoviridae virus family.
Oseltamivir, even when it does work, reduces the duration of flu symptoms by only 12–24 h. Some people take it prophylactically, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend this practice because it may cause the viruses to develop resistance to the drug. The exception is that high-risk individuals should take it if they have not been (or have only recently been) vaccinated and have been exposed to flu in the previous 48 h.
The irony is that many, if not most, high-risk people are more than 65 years old. But oseltamivir does not work as well in seniors as it does with younger people.
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