Nov. 5-11, 1999
Vol. 29, Issue 36
Inside UVA Online
the Newsletter for Faculty & Staff at the University of Virginia
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IN THIS ISSUE
New drug effective in preventing the flu
Upcoming e-summit Nov. 12-13
e-summit conference to consider Jeffersonian principles in the Internet Age
U.Va. alumni leading the Internet revolution will fill panels at e-summit conference
Nobel Laureate Williams returns, challenges students to activism
Notable - awards and achievements of faculty and staff

Research reveals people overestimate slopes, heights

In Memoriam
Hot Links - interactive map
Commission holds retreat to consider needs for fine and performing arts
Sky-watchers converge at U.Va. observatories on "public" nights
Drake describes progress of search for extraterrestrial intelligence
Rent-a-Rower for outdoor chores

TOP NEWS

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Dr. Frederick Hayden
Stephanie Gross
Dr. Frederick Hayden says the antiviral drug, oseltamivir, which he is studying in clinical trials, is effective in preventing people from getting the flu.

New drug effective in preventing the flu

By Marguerite Beck

A new flu drug, oseltamivir, is up to 84 percent effective for long-term prevention of naturally occurring influenza, according to a study published in the Oct. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Frederick C. Hayden, professor of internal medicine at U.Va.'s Health System, and colleagues, studied the use of oseltamivir over a six-week period in two randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials during flu outbreaks in the winter of 1997-98.

"Although a yearly flu shot is still the best way to prevent influenza, this drug provides a supplemental means of protection," Hayden said. "For example, in the case of the rapid spread of a new flu virus, this type of antiviral drug could play a major role in protecting people while the specific vaccine was being developed. Or if someone waited to get the vaccine until flu activity had already started, oseltamivir could be used to provide immediate protection while waiting for a response to the vaccine." (Influenza is an acute highly contagious viral infection characterized by sudden onset, fever, severe aches and pains, and progressive inflammation of the respiratory mucous membrane.)

The study, which involved 1,559 healthy adults who ranged in age from 18 to 65, was conducted at centers in Virginia, Texas and Kansas. Eight to 12 weeks before the anticipated start of the peak flu season, people were enrolled in the study. When there was a local increase in influenza virus activity, participants returned to the study center to begin drug administration.

The study participants were given 75 milligrams of oseltamivir orally, once or twice daily, or a dummy pill for six weeks. Participants used daily diary cards to record their oral temperature, any medications taken, times of drug administration and the presence or absence of seven key flu symptoms: chills or sweats, aches, fatigue, headache, cough, sore throat and nasal congestion.

Return visits were scheduled for week three, week six (within three days after the final dose of the study medication had been taken) and week eight (or 10 to 14 days after the final dose). People in the trial also were instructed to return to the clinic if fever or other symptoms of influenza developed; at these visits, nasal and pharyngeal swabs were collected for influenza virus culture.

Although the rates of influenza in the study populations were low and variable, overall there was a 74 percent protection rate in laboratory-confirmed flu and an 87 percent protection rate in culture-positive influenza. At the three Virginia centers, a daily dose of oseltamavir was 84 percent protective against influenza illness.

The study findings demonstrate that oral oseltamivir is effective in preventing naturally occurring influenza and that it is well-tolerated during long-term administration, Hayden said. The most common side effect was minor gastrointestinal disturbances or nausea that usually dissipated after the first week.

These findings confirm the results of earlier studies of experimental influenza in humans in which 100 milligrams of oral oseltamivir taken once daily was highly protective against infection-associated illness.

Oseltamivir, which is produced by Hoffman-LaRoche, currently is being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


e-summit banner
Stephanie Gross
Upcoming e-summit Nov. 12-13 Sidney Taylor, right, and John Marston, of Facilities Management, hang the "e-summit" banner on the columns of Old Cabell Hall Oct. 26. The conference, to be held Nov. 12 and 13, will bring alumni, now leaders in the field of technology, on Grounds to discuss future uses of the Internet. See related stories.
© Copyright 1999 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia

Managing Editor
Anne Bromley

Online Web Editor
Karen Asher

Staff Writers
Rebecca Arrington
Dan Heuchert
Nancy Hurrelbrinck

Contributors
Marguerite Beck
Jane Ford
Kathleen Valenzi
Ida Lee Wootten
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