Tamiflu limits flu effects in chronically ill kids

NEW YORK Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:30pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- Using oseltamivir, marketed as Tamiflu, early in the course of the flu reduces complications and hospitalizations in children and adolescents with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, according to a new study.

Using anonymous data from MarketsSan databases (Thomson Reuters, Cambridge, Massachusetts), Dr. Pedro A. Piedra from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston and colleagues studied 1634 children prescribed oseltamivir and 3721 who received no antiviral drugs. Chronic conditions among the children included chronic lung disease, asthma, diabetes, HIV infection, cancer and transplants.

In the 14 days following influenza diagnosis, children treated with oseltamivir had about a rate of breathing-related illnesses (other than pneumonia) about one-quarter less than that of those not treated with antiviral medication, the authors report. Among the 1634 children with flu, there were 324 cases of such illnesses in those treated with oseltamivir; there were 885 cases among the 3721 who did not receive the treatment.

The rate of ear infections and its complications was also about a third less, compared with children not treated with antiviral medication, the authors report. Among the 1634 children with flu, there were 46 cases of such illnesses in those treated with oseltamivir; there were 184 cases among the 3721 who did not receive the treatment.

Children treated with oseltamivir were only one third as likely to require hospitalization for any reason as children not treated with antiviral medication. There were a total of 58 hospitalizations among both groups.

The results were similar for the 30 days following the influenza diagnosis, the researchers note, but the risk reductions were somewhat smaller.

The study, Piedra told Reuters Health via email, will be helpful in determining the best uses of oseltamivir for flu strains including H1N1, also known as swine flu.

Piedra has been a consultant to Tamiflu manufacturer Roche, and to other companies, and one of his co-authors is a Roche employee.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, July 2009.

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