Sunday, January 20, 2013

CDC Urges Tamiflu Rx to Curb Flu Death Rate

January 16, 2013

A sharp increase in both hospitalization and death rates as of January 12 underlines the need to administer the antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu, Genentech) or zanamivir (Relenza, GlaxoSmithKline) within 48 hours of influenza symptoms surfacing, said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, at a press briefing today. This immediate treatment is especially important for high-risk patients such as the elderly, young children, and those with serious underlying conditions such asthma and heart disease.

"When given promptly, they work," said Dr. Frieden. "They can reduce symptoms, shorten the duration of illness, and prevent serious complications including hospitalization and death.
"What we're seeing is not as many people getting treated with Tamiflu."

Zanamivir, administered through oral inhalation, is not recommended in individuals with underlying airways disease, thereby limiting its use.

The rate of oseltamivir treatment has dipped this year compared with the 2009-2010 pandemic influenza season, when "people were a little more attuned to this," Dr. Frieden said.
He advised clinicians to immediately prescribe antiviral medications for patients reporting influenza symptoms even if they test negative with a rapid flu test. The test, he said, can have false negatives.

In response to spot shortages of oseltamivir, Genentech is releasing a reserve stock of 75-mg capsules with the blessing of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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