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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Antiviral Drugs for Swine Flu (H1N1)

Antiviral Drugs for Swine Flu (H1N1)

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So far tests show that swine flu is responding to oseltamivir and zanamivir. Antiviral medicines reduce the severity of swine flu and also speed up recovery from symptoms. They can also prevent complications of swine flu. These drugs are most effective when started within two days of onset of symptoms. Antiviral drugs are medicines that act against viruses. They are prescription medicines, which means that you should not buy them on your own or take them unless prescribed by a qualified health professional. Four antiviral drugs are approved for use in flu. They are oseltamivir, zanamivir, amantadine and rimantadine. The swine flu virus is not responding to two of the medicines, i.e amantadine and rimantadine. So far tests show that it is responding to oseltamivir and zanamivir. These medicines act specifically against the flu viruses and will not prevent or treat flu like symptoms caused by aby other virus.

 

Current recommendations for the use of antiviral medicines in swine flu

As per the current recommendations oseltamivir or zanamivir should be used for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses.

  • Oseltamivir (Tamiflu ®) is approved to both treat and prevent influenza A and B virus infection in people one year of age and older
  • Zanamivir (Relenza ®) is approved to treat influenza A and B virus infection in people 7 years and older and to prevent influenza A and B virus infection in people 5 years and older

Benefits of using antiviral drugs in swine flu

  • Antiviral medicines reduce the severity of swine flu and also speed up recovery from symptoms.
  • They can also prevent complications of swine flu. These drugs are most effective when started within two days of onset of symptoms.
  • However, patients should be provided these medicines even when they are diagnosed after 48 hours of onset of symptoms. This may be of particular value in seriously ill patients and those at increased risk of developing complications.

Antiviral medicines for the prevention of swine flu:

  • Antiviral medicines can also be used to prevent swine flu in a person who is not ill, but who has been or may be near a person with swine flu.
  • These drugs are about 70% to 90% effective in preventing swine flu. The duration of treatment required for the prevention of swine flu will vary depending on the swine flu situation in a particular place and the person’s risk of contracting the illness.

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