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Tamiflu Significantly Reduces The Risk Of Death From Influenza

Armen Hareyan's picture

InterScience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC), San Francisco, 29th September 2006: Tamiflu (oseltamivir), is effective in reducing the risk of death associated with seasonal influenza in severely ill patients, according to new data presented today. Treatment of infected adults was associated with a 71 per cent reduction in mortality.1 These results demonstrate the importance of the role of antivirals in the management of seasonal influenza and highlights the seriousness and risk of mortality associated with it.

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"The neuraminidase class of antivirals were originally assessed during their clinical development for their ability to reduce influenza symptom severity and duration in healthy adults", comments Dr. Allison McGeer, Primary Investigator who led today's research and Microbiologist and Infection Disease Consultant at the Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, "This new analysis contributes to the accumulating evidence that oseltamivir also has a significant impact in preventing serious complications including death in older at-risk individuals".

The population-based surveillance study was conducted during the two consecutive influenza seasons on a total of 512 patients who were admitted to hospital for illness associated with a positive test for influenza in Ontario, Canada. Over half of patients, mainly those with underlying illness, had been previously vaccinated. 84% were treated with antibacterial agents and 32% with antivirals (3% amantadine; 97% oseltamivir) at time of admission/diagnosis. Of the total patients with influenza who required hospital admission, 67% were diagnosed with influenza with or without pneumonia, 13% with respiratory infection (e.g. acute bronchitis) and 62% with fever/viral syndrome. 1 Of all adult patients, 6.4% patients died and these deaths were attributed to influenza.1 Treatment of adults with an antiviral was associated with more than a two third reduction in death from influenza.

The authors conclude that influenza remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with underlying illness, despite prior vaccination. In addition they suggest that hospitalization may be better avoided by antiviral rather than anti-bacterial therapy in patients with influenza-like illness.