Influenza Antiviral Drugs – An Overview

The Influenza Virus is Winters Worst Nightmare

The Influenza Virus is Winters Worst Nightmare

The winter season has been in full swing all around the USA. Winter, with the snow is a beautiful season, albeit until we have snowstorms. But this season also brings some major illnesses with it. On top of the list is Influenza. We all know that influenza is a very common disease, which is basically caused by influenza virus and commonly known as flu. The regular symptoms of flu are fever, chills, aches and pains, cough and sore throat. However, adversely, some flu may lead to some of the serious illnesses like life threatening pneumonia or other complicated bacterial infections. This is especially true for the elderly and immune compromised.

FDA has approved a number of drugs as a cure for flu. Flu has been recognized and become an epidemic disease in USA nowadays, especially among children who share the virus with family members. Flu can be prevented by vaccinations but at times, it may become complicated, especially for people suffering from chronic medical conditions. Influenza can be detected through tests, but sometimes these might be negative which definitely doesn’t rule out the risk of influenza infection.

Antiviral drugs play a very important and vital role in the treatment of flu. But sometimes a patient is only treated for flu and the other infections are overlooked, and those might become serious and hence, life threatening. Antivirals can prevent influenza, but only if it is diagnosed at an earlier stage. One thing necessary for a flu patient, apart from the test, is that the symptoms are not ignored. Anti-influenza and antiviral medicines are not a replacement for vaccination. The former two are used along with vaccines to control influenza. FDA has approved two antiviral drugs which can be used to cure the recently spread flu viruses.

  •  Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate)- This is recommended for patients between 2 weeks and older
  • Relenza (Zanamivir)- it is recommended for patients of 5 years and older.

The other drugs such as Symmetrel (amantadine) and Flumadine (rimantadine) are usually used to cure Influenza A. But many of the newer strains of influenza, including the 2009 H1N1 influenza, are now resistant to these two drugs. The dosage and dosing instructions of every drug is different especially for children. Thus it is important to check the literature within the drug packaging or take the dose according to doctor’s prescription as written.

Along with antiviral drugs, some new drugs or formulations of the previous approved drugs might be available through an Investigational New Drug mechanism, which includes clinical trials and expanded access programs.

Resources:
CDC 2012-2013 Inluenza Vaccine Information Sheet
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-flu.pdf