What is the role of neuraminidase inhibitors in the treatment of influenza?

Updated: Aug 07, 2020
  • Author: Hien H Nguyen, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Whether to prescribe one of the newer neuraminidase inhibitors should depend on the patient, the probable type of influenza involved (A or B), and the potential benefit. The advantages of prescribing these agents include significantly reducing illness severity and duration. In elderly and high-risk patients who receive these agents, the secondary complications of influenza are also decreased. [80]

The disadvantages include potential adverse effects and higher costs. In addition, they must be started within 48 hours of when the first symptoms appear. Adverse effects include potential bronchospasm with inhaled zanamivir and nausea, vomiting, and headache from oseltamivir. The bronchospasm associated with zanamivir has received attention from national media. Until more data are available, physicians should not prescribe zanamivir to patients prone to bronchospasm.

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