The bitter taste of Tamiflu could prevent children from taking a medication that would be their first line of defense against the avian flu, according to the International Association of Medicinal Compliance (IAMC).

Due to taste, children, who are the major carriers/transmitters of the typical flu, are likely to be less than 50% compliant with the pediatric version of this medication, the IAMC says. Not finishing the entire drug regimen as prescribed could result in persistent symptoms, uncured disorders, and the evolution of drug-resistant strains.

Of equal concern is that once symptoms of the avian flu subside, both parents and children will think they are better and stop administering and taking the medication before the entire course has been completed. This will cause many patients to become resistant to the medication but will not kill the organism. Thus the flu will return possibly as a more virulent strain creating an even faster-spreading pandemic.

Since October 2005, the IAMC has been spreading a medical compliance message, most recently by asking the government for a more comprehensive pandemic preparedness plan. They have met with many members of the Senate HELP committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, in addition to representatives of the Health and Human Services Department (HHS).

Gunjan Koul, director of the organization, sought advice from FLAVORx, a Maryland-based biotech firm and member of the IAMC, to remedy the compliance problems that Tamiflu would most likely present.

In its liquid state Tamiflu has a very bitter aftertaste which may lead to a lack of compliance. However, it can safely be flavored into a better tasting drug that children can take without having to endure the struggle that is common with antiviral medications. The IAMC’s hope is that once people taste the before-and-after version of this medication, palatability will be an issue that becomes top priority.

According to the IAMC, it is imperative that the nation have a comprehensive plan in place to combat the spread of infection and drug resistance. More information can be found at