Watch out, there’s a second wave of nasty influenza starting to circulate. Even though it seems as if spring is right around the corner, a lot of people are suffering from this badass H3N2 strain of flu. Read more about this “second wave” at this link. Although public health officials are still encouraging people to get their flu shot, it may be a little late in the season. What about oral anti-viral drugs like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or baloxavir (Xofluza)? Will they work? Why are such drugs so controversial that this doctor would not prescribe Tamiflu?
Doctor Discourages Oseltamivir (Tamiful)
One reader could not get the ER doctor to prescribe this antiviral flu medicine:
Q. I was recently in a local emergency department with the flu. The doctor actually diagnosed me with the flu, but he discouraged me from taking oseltamivir (Tamiflu).
I asked about it, as I am a retired nurse. Apparently, this medicine has now been identified as a needless drug in an article published in Emergency Medicine News, April 2017. Do you have any further insight?
A. Use of Oseltamivir is controversial. The author of the article you cited calls it a “dud of a drug.”
But a review of this class of medicines (neuraminidase inhibitors) involving data from 78 studies and nearly 30,000 patients concluded otherwise (Lancet Respiratory Medicine, May 2014). Here is what they found:
“Compared with no treatment, neuraminidase inhibitor treatment (irrespective of timing) was associated with a reduction in mortality risk (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0·81). Compared with later treatment, early treatment (within 2 days of symptom onset) was associated with a reduction in mortality risk (adjusted OR 0·48). Early treatment versus no treatment was also associated with a reduction in mortality (adjusted OR 0·50…There was an increase in the mortality hazard rate with each day’s delay in initiation of treatment up to day 5 as compared with treatment initiated within 2 days of symptom onset (adjusted HR 1·23 for the increasing HR with each day’s delay).”
“We advocate early instigation of neuraminidase inhibitor treatment in adults admitted to hospital with suspected or proven influenza infection.”
Read More About the Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) Controversy:
At this link you find a retired family physician doctor spanking us for discussing antiviral drugs. You will also read a patient’s perspective.
What has been your experience with antiviral medications. Share your story in the comment section below.