Tamiflu Saved Lives During Swine Flu Pandemic, Study Confirms03/19/14
TUESDAY, March 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The antiviral drug
Tamiflu reduced the risk of death by 25 percent among adults
hospitalized during the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, according to
a new review.
Also, antiviral treatment within 48 hours of developing flu
symptoms halved the risk of death compared with starting treatment
later or receiving no treatment, according to the study, which was
published March 18 in the journal
The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
The risk of death rose by about 20 percent for every 24 hours
that treatment was delayed after 48 hours since the start of
symptoms, the researchers also found.
"As expected, early treatment seems to be optimal, and treatment shouldn't be delayed by even one day to wait for diagnostic test results," Alicia Fry, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in an accompanying journal editorial. "However, if the patient presents for care more than two days after illness onset, treatment might still have some benefit, especially if they are severely ill."
Although treatment with Tamiflu (oseltamivir) reduced the risk
of death in many groups of adults -- including pregnant women and
severely ill patients -- it didn't significantly reduce death risk
The researchers analyzed data from 78 studies that included more
than 29,000 patients of all ages in 38 countries who were
hospitalized with confirmed or suspected H1N1 infection between
Jan. 2, 2009, and March 14, 2011.
Study lead author Professor Jonathan Nguyen-Van-Tam, of the
University of Nottingham, in England, said many governments have
stockpiles of Tamiflu approaching its expiration date. "But until
now," Nguyen-Van-Tam said, "they had no adequate data to assist
them in deciding if lives were saved in 2009 and 2010 or not, and
whether they should replenish or not."
"The situation is made more complex by the fact that when an influenza pandemic occurs, even with the best will in the world, vaccine arrives six months too late and its public-health benefit is therefore moderate at best," he said. "Thus we are left with antivirals like Tamiflu and public-health measures like handwashing and social distancing as the only defenses we have for the first six months of a pandemic."
Even though the review found that Tamiflu did not appear to
reduce children's risk of death, Fry said the potential benefit of
treatment with the drug "for severely ill children is substantial
and outweighs any potential risk associated with treatment."
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about
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