Which medications in the drug class Antiviral agents are used in the treatment of Viral Pneumonia?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Antiviral agents

Acute lower respiratory tract infection from viral etiologies can be treated with antiviral agents. These agents inhibit DNA synthesis and viral replication by competing with deoxyguanosine triphosphate for viral DNA polymerase.

Agents used include amantadine, rimantadine, zanamivir, oseltamivir, ribavirin, acyclovir, ganciclovir, and foscarnet are used. The influenza drugs may be used as either prophylactic or therapeutic agents. Hyperimmune globulin is used primarily for passive immunization in some viral illnesses.

Zanamivir (Relenza)

Zanamivir inhibits neuraminidase, which is a glycoprotein on the surface of the influenza virus that destroys the infected cell's receptor for viral hemagglutinin. By inhibiting viral neuraminidase, the release of viruses from infected cells and viral spread are decreased. Zanamivir is effective against influenza types A and B. The drug is inhaled through the Diskhaler oral inhalation device. Circular foil discs containing 5-mg blisters of the drug are inserted into the supplied inhalation device.

Oseltamivir (Tamiflu)

Oseltamivir inhibits neuraminidase, which is a glycoprotein on the surface of influenza virus that destroys an infected cell's receptor for viral hemagglutinin. By inhibiting viral neuraminidase, it decreases the release of viruses from infected cells and thus viral spread. Oseltamivir is effective for treatment of influenza A or B infection, although resistant strains of seasonal influenza and H1N1 have been reported. Start within 40 hours of symptom onset.

Peramivir (Rapivab)

Peramivir elicits antiviral activity by inhibiting influenza virus neuraminidase, an enzyme that releases viral particles from the plasma membrane of infected cells. It is indicated for the treatment of acute uncomplicated influenza in adults and children aged 6 months and older who have been symptomatic for no more than 2 days. 

Ribavirin (Virazole)

Ribavirin inhibits viral replication by inhibiting DNA and RNA synthesis. It has shown in vitro antiviral properties against RSV, parainfluenza, hantavirus, measles, and many other.

Acyclovir (Zovirax)

Acyclovir inhibits activity of both HSV-1 and HSV-2. It has affinity for viral thymidine kinase and, once phosphorylated, causes DNA chain termination when acted on by DNA polymerase. Patients experience less pain and faster resolution of HSV or VZV lesions when used within 24-48 hours of rash onset. Early initiation of therapy is imperative.

Ganciclovir (Cytovene, Vitrasert)

Ganciclovir is a synthetic guanine derivative that is active against CMV, HSV, HHV-6, and HHV-8. It is an acyclic nucleoside analog of 2'-deoxyguanosine that inhibits replication of herpesviruses both in vitro and in vivo. levels of ganciclovir-triphosphate are as much as 100-fold greater in CMV-infected cells than in uninfected cells, possibly because of preferential phosphorylation of ganciclovir in virus-infected cells. An oral prodrug, valganciclovir, is now available.

Foscarnet (Foscavir)

Foscarnet is an organic analog of inorganic pyrophosphate that inhibits replication of known herpesviruses, including CMV, HSV-1, and HSV-2. It inhibits viral replication at pyrophosphate-binding sites on virus-specific DNA polymerases. Poor clinical response or persistent viral excretion during therapy may result from viral resistance. Patients who can tolerate foscarnet well may benefit from initiation of maintenance treatment at 120 mg/kg/d early in treatment. Individualize dosing based on renal function status.

Cidofovir (Vistide)

Cidofovir has demonstrated good in vitro activity against adenoviruses, including serotype 14. Cidofovir has shown some efficacy in treating adenovirus infection in immunocompromised patients, especially HSCT recipients.

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