People suffering from severe influenza do not benefit from double doses of the antiviral drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu), according to new research.
Researchers in South East Asia found there are no virological or clinical benefits of giving double doses of the drug to patients admitted to hospital with the disease. They say their findings have implications for global guidelines, clinical management and pandemic preparedness, including for the current H7N9 outbreak.
It is the first study of its kind, examining the effectiveness of higher doses of oseltamivir in cases of hospitalised severe human influenza - seasonal, pandemic and bird flu strains.
Human influenza is typically a self-limiting illness, but in some extreme cases it can lead to respiratory complications, admission to hospital and death.
Scientists at the South East Asian Infectious Disease Clinical Research Network investigated whether double dose oseltamivir improves outcomes compared with the standard dose in patients admitted to hospital with severe influenza.
Some 326 patients, mostly children aged under 15, with severe influenza were analysed from April 2007 to February 2010 at 13 hospitals in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
No differences were found between patients who received a standard dose of oseltamivir (75 mg twice a day or children’s equivalent) or a double dose (150 mg twice a day or children’s equivalent) for five days.
The researchers said the results “do not support routine use of double dose oseltamivir to treat severe influenza”.
“There are no virological or clinical advantages with double dose oseltamivir compared with standard dose in patients with severe influenza admitted to hospital,” they concluded.
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