LONDON-British health officials are investigating the likely person-to-person spread of a drug-resistant strain of swine flu, the Health Protection Agency said on Friday.
There have been five confirmed cases in Wales of patients infected with H1N1 resistant to oseltamivir -- the generic name of Roche AG (ROG.VX) and Gilead Sciences Inc's (GILD.O) antiviral drug Tamiflu, the agency said.
Four other patients are infected with H1N1 with the same genetic mutation but one was helped by Tamiflu and the status of three others is not clear. Another antiviral, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) and Biota Inc's (BTA.AX) Relenza, was effective in the patients, the HPA said.
The patients had serious conditions that suppressed their immune systems, which can give the virus a better than usual opportunity to develop resistance, the HPA added.
"Although further epidemiological investigation is underway, it would seem likely that transmission of oseltamivir-resitant H1N1 virus has taken place," it said in a statement. "At present we believe the risk to the general healthy population is low."
John McCauley of the Medical Research Council said the patients involved were in an at-risk group...