Study: Patients get almost no benefit from Tamiflu

Posted on Feb 17, 2015 in Vaccines

CHESAPEAKE — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this year’s flu has reached epidemic levels across the country, making the demand for the popular flu-fighting drug, Tamiflu, greater than the supply.

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Emergency room doctors at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center say five of their top-ten busiest days have been in the past two weeks. Most of those patients are coming in with flu-like symptoms and many believe they need Tamiflu to feel better.

But two recent independent trials claim Tamiflu has failed to show the benefits manufactures claimed.

“If you believe the manufacturers, they’ll tell you that everybody who has the flu needs Tamiflu,” said Dr. Todd Parker, an emergency room doctor at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center.

He said evidence hasn’t shown what manufacturers have claimed.

“Really all that Tamiflu does is shorten the course of the illness from seven days to six and a half days,” Dr. Parker said.

Chesapeake Regional is only prescribing Tamiflu if a patient meets the CDC treatment criteria or are sick enough to need hospitalization, which has recently been about one in five patients with the flu.

“Tamiflu doesn’t prevent hospitalizations. It doesn’t prevent any complications from it and you may be actually decreasing your ability to fight the flu in the future,” Dr. Parker said.

Recent studies on Tamiflu conducted by the British Medical Journal and the Cochrane Review claim that Tamiflu does not prevent hospitalizations or serious complications like pneumonia. The studies also claim that there are increased side effects from Tamiflu and the drug impairs some people’s ability to make antibodies to the flu.

“Unless you are sick enough to be hospitalized, or you meet the CDC treatment criteria, you are more likely to be harmed by a side effect of Tamiflu than you are to receive any meaningful benefit except shortening your illness by a few hours,” Dr. Parker said.

Doctors at Chesapeake Regional are following the CDC guidelines and only prescribing Tamiflu to patients showing flu-like systems for less than 48 hours and who are considered high-risk.

“Generally the very young, people under two, people over the age of 65 or someone with a severe, chronic disease,” Dr. Parker said.

Getting a flu shot is the number one way to protect yourself against getting the flu, Dr. Parker said.

“Most years, the vaccine works very well. This year, the vaccine wasn’t as good, but it’s still better than not having the vaccine,” Dr. Parker said.

To stay healthy this season and limit the spread of illness, follow these three recommendations:

1. Get the flu shot

2. Wash your hands and do whatever you can to avoid touching your face

3. If you do get sick, stay home. If you go into the office or school when you’re sick you risk spreading the virus. Once you go 24 hours without a fever without the aid of fever-reducing medicine, you are no longer contagious and can return to work.

Source:  Fox News