Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used for treating viral infections. Most antivirals target specific viruses, while a broad-spectrum antiviral is effective against a wide range of viruses. Unlike most antibiotics, antiviral drugs do not destroy their target pathogen; instead they inhibit its development.
Antiviral drugs are one class of antimicrobials, a larger group which also includes antibiotic (also termed antibacterial), antifungal and antiparasitic drugs, or antiviral drugs based on monoclonal antibodies. Most antivirals are considered relatively harmless to the host, and therefore can be used to treat infections. They should be distinguished from viricides, which are not medication but deactivate or destroy virus particles, either inside or outside the body. Natural viricides are produced by some plants such as eucalyptus and Australian tea trees.
Public Health Emergency Preparedness initiatives
Public Health Emergency Preparedness initiatives are managed by the CDC via the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. Funds aim to support communities in preparing for public health emergencies, including pandemic influenza. Also managed by the CDC, the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) consists of bulk quantities of medicines and supplies for use during such emergencies. Antiviral stockpiles prepare for shortages of antiviral medications in cases of public health emergencies. During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009–2010, guidelines for SNS use by local health departments was unclear, revealing gaps in antiviral planning. For example, local health departments that received antivirals from the SNS did not have transparent guidance on the use of the treatments. The gap made it difficult to create plans and policies for their use and future availabilities, causing delays in treatment.