Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


WHO downgrades status of oseltamivir

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 12 July 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3266

Rapid Response:

Re: WHO downgrades status of oseltamivir

Antiviral Agents For Influenza

At present vaccinations are the only preventive measures useful to  prevent influenza . Influenza antiviral agents are an important adjunct to vaccinations. 

The recommendations for using influenza antiviral medications are based on data from the randomized clinical trials as well as from observational studies of patients receiving treatment in practice. Early antiviral treatment in people with influenza can lessen the illness severity, shorten time of illness, and reduce the serious     Influenza related complications such as pneumonia in outpatients and death in hospitalized patients. 

There are three antiviral agents recommended for the treatment of influenza, they are oral oseltamivir, inhaled zanamivir, and intravenous peramivir. These neuraminidase inhibitors are chemically related and have activity against both influenza A and B viruses. Generic oseltamivir was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August 2016 .

To treat influenza, oral oseltamivir and inhaled zanamivir are usually prescribed for 5 days, although hospitalized patients may receive treatment for longer. Intravenous peramivir is administered in a single infusion over 15-30 minutes. Peramivir is approved for treatment in adults, zanamivir for treatment of children 7 years or older, and oseltamivir for treatment even in infants. 

Resistance to the circulating influenza viruses to any of the neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral  agent is low at present.

Still more randomised control studies are required to confirm the effectiveness of antivirals in influenza viral infections

Competing interests: No competing interests

14 July 2017
M.A. Aleem
ABC Hospital
Annamalainagar Trichy 620018 Tamilnadu India