Frederick Hayden says the antiviral drug, oseltamivir, which
he is studying in clinical trials, is effective in preventing
people from getting the flu.
drug effective in preventing the flu
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
which is produced by Hoffman-LaRoche, currently is being reviewed
by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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.