Some drugs (known as 'antivirals') appear to be effective against most strains of the H5N1 virus if administered early, but there is very little real-world experience as to their effectiveness.They include Oseltamivir (sold as Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (sold as Relenza).These drugs are known to reduce the length of illness and complications in seasonal influenza and may also reduce the seriousness and duration of illness caused by pandemic flu.To be effective, these medications must be taken within 48 hours after symptoms begin. We also know that they are most effective if you take them at the earliest signs of symptoms.
Since supplies of antivirals are severely constrained, countries should decide in advance on priority groups to be targeted, i.e. front-line health care workers. WHO recommends that countries with the resources to do so, consider stockpiling antivirals, in order to ensure that the needs of priority groups are fulfilled.The mass administration of antiviral drugs to the general population is not recommended, as this could accelerate the development of drug-resistant strains. WHO has not set a target for national antiviral stockpiles. Source: WHO