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
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).
Full article: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/777890