08-10-2009, 12:56 PM
Direct Action Resistance Fighter
Joined: Aug 2006
Flu drugs 'unhelpful' in children
Quote:Research has cast doubt on the policy of giving antiviral drugs to children for swine flu.
Work in the British Medical Journal shows Tamiflu and Relenza rarely prevent complications in children who have normal seasonal flu.
Although it is hard to generalise this to the current swine flu pandemic, the authors say these drugs are unlikely to help children who catch the H1N1 virus.
Side effects and the risk of resistance developing may negate their use.
There were an estimated 30,000 new cases of swine flu in England in the last week, a drop compared with the 110,000 cases the week before.
A decreased incidence has also been seen in Scotland and Wales in the past week.
The total of swine flu-related deaths in England and Scotland stands at 40.
Antivirals are the mainstay of treatment at the moment until a vaccine becomes available, which is expected in September.
The drugs are designed to ensure that symptoms are mild and reduce the chance of an infected person giving the illness to someone else.
The UK has moved beyond the stage of containing swine flu into the "treatment phase", which means that Tamiflu is only being offered to people who have swine flu and not usually to their contacts.
While the latest study shows that antivirals can shorten the duration of flu in children by up to a day and a half, it also shows that they have little or no effect on asthma flare-ups, ear infections or the likelihood of children needing antibiotics.
The antiviral Tamiflu is also linked to an increased risk of vomiting.
The study also reveals the effectiveness of using antivirals to contain the spread of flu.
They found that 13 people need to be treated to prevent one additional case, meaning antivirals reduce transmission by 8%.
The University of Oxford team, led by Dr Matthew Thompson, carried out a review of four trials on the treatment of seasonal flu in 1,766 children and three trials involving the use of antiviral to limit the spread of seasonal flu in 863 children.
Dr Thompson said: "Our research is finding for most children these antiviral drugs are probably not going to have much of an effect."
Co-researcher Dr Carl Henegan, a GP and expert from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, said the current policy of giving Tamiflu for mild illness was an "inappropriate strategy".
He said: "The downside of the harms outweigh the one-day reduction in symptomatic benefits."
Flu expert Professor Hugh Pennington said the findings were not surprising and underlined what was already known about Tamiflu.
"Tamiflu has a place but it's not a wonder cure."
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