Does Tamiflu Still Work On Fluenza Virus

2019-02-04 09:29:41



Swine flu cases are on the rise and the disease has proven deadly in India’s western state of Rajasthan. Flu season hits in January each year, as cold temperatures restrict immune system activity and allow viruses to multiply. A vast number of different diseases can circulate during this time, many hangovers from previous major outbreaks such as Swine flu - which made rounds in 2009 as a pandemic. According to a data issued by the government, 2,572 swine flu cases have been reported across the country with Rajasthan recording 1,508 cases and 56 deaths this year till 24 Jan 2019.

Tamiflu  (generic name oseltamivir). Oseltamivir, which was approved by the FDA in 1999, may not be a great drug, but given the severity swine flu. The term "flu" refers to illness caused by the influenza virus. The flu is a respiratory infection that can cause symptoms such as fever, chills, aches and pains, cough, and sore throat. The flu can range from mild common cold symptoms, to the typical "flu" symptoms described above, to life-threatening pneumonia and other complications, including secondary bacterial infections.

Tamiflu is used to treat people 2 weeks of age and older who have the flu (influenza A and B viruses). Tamiflu is also sometimes used for prevention (prophylaxis) of the flu in people 1 year of age and older, but it is not a substitute for getting the flu vaccine.

Governments worldwide have stockpiled Tamiflu in case of a global outbreak, the Associated Press reports, and it was used during the 2009 swine flu pandemic. World Health Organization included Tamiflu on a list of "essential medicines," further popularizing the drug around the globe. The FDA and the European Medicines Agency approve Tamiflu for the treatment and prevention of flu.

A 2009 re-analysis of Tamiflu, not funded by the pharmaceutical industry and published in a BMJ article, found no significant evidence that the drug reduced influenza symptoms or complications. The meta-analysis even showed that Tamiflu causes nausea.

A 2015 Lancet  publication by  Whitley, et. al. examined nine clinical trials including 4,328 patients. The authors noted: that oseltamivir in adults with influenza accelerates time to clinical symptom alleviation, reduces risk of lower respiratory tract complications, and admittance to hospital, but increases the occurrence of nausea and vomiting.

In another 2017 review by Malosh, et. al., reported that treatment with oseltamivir significantly reduced the duration of illness in those with influenza and lowered the risk of developing otitis media. Alternative endpoints may be required to evaluate the efficacy of oseltamivir in pediatric patients with asthma.

Although there are differing opinions about the utility of anti-flu drugs, they are imperfect by any measure. It's much better to prevent flu than to treat it. 

 Source:, Malosh, et. al. Clinical Infectious Diseases, ,, Whitley, et. al Lancet,