The description of the first two designer antiviral drugs to fight influenza was a ground breaking advance. Targeted against the influenza neuraminidase enzyme these inhibitors have been shown to reduce both the severity and duration of influenza illness. Importantly, it is expected that these neuraminidase inhibitors would be effective against influenza pandemic strain and could therefore be vital at reducing the potentially devastating consequences of such an outbreak. Despite the demonstrated efficacy of these drugs, they are not commonly used, particularly in the UK, and there is substantial concern that in the event of a pandemic or even a severe epidemic there could be substantial morbidity and mortality. SARS has shown that the public and media response to a serious epidemic is not always rational and this could easily become panic if it became apparent that treatment was possible, but not available.