Generic Name: oseltamivir
Product Brand Name: Tamiflu ®
Why is Tamiflu prescribed?
Tamiflu speeds recovery from the flu. When started during the first 2 days of the illness, it hastens improvement by at least a day. It also can prevent the flu if treatment is started within 2 days after exposure to a flu victim. Tamiflu is one of a new class of antiviral drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors.
As the flu virus takes hold in the body, it forms new copies of itself and spreads from cell to cell. Neuraminidase inhibitors fight the virus by preventing the release of new copies from infected cells. The other drug in this class, Relenza, is taken by inhalation. Tamiflu is taken in liquid or capsule form.
Most important fact about Tamiflu
Tamiflu can prevent the flu as long as you continue taking this medication, but getting a yearly flu shot is still the best way of avoiding the disease entirely. For older adults, those in high-risk situations such as health-care work, and people with an immune deficiency or respiratory disease, vaccination remains a must.
How should you take Tamiflu?
To provide any benefit, Tamiflu must be started within two days of the onset of symptoms, or exposure to the flu. If you have the flu, continue taking it twice daily for 5 days, even if you start to feel better. To prevent the flu, take it once a day for at least 7 days. Protection lasts as long as you take the drug.
If Tamiflu upsets your stomach, try taking it with food. Shake the liquid suspension before each use.
--If you miss a dose...
Take it as soon as possible. If it is within two hours of your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular schedule.
Store at room temperature. Keep the blister package dry. Use the liquid suspension within 10 days. It should be refrigerated, but do not freeze.
Tamiflu side effects
Most problems noted during tests of Tamiflu were indistinguishable from the symptoms of flu. Here are the reactions that showed up more frequently in patients taking the drug.
Side effects may include:
Abdominal pain, asthma, bronchitis, cough, diarrhea, ear infection, fatigue, headache, insomnia, nausea, nosebleed, vertigo, vomiting
Why should Tamiflu not be prescribed?
If Tamiflu gives you an allergic reaction, avoid it in the future.
Special warnings about Tamiflu
If you have kidney disease, the doctor may have to cut your daily dose of Tamiflu in half.
The effectiveness of Tamiflu has not been established for people with weakened immune systems. The drug has not been studied in people with liver disease.
Tamiflu works only on the flu virus. It won't stop bacterial infections that may have flu-like symptoms or bacterial infections that may develop while you have the flu. If your symptoms persist, check with your doctor.
Possible food and drug interactions when taking Tamiflu
No interactions have been reported.
Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
It is not known whether Tamiflu is completely safe during pregnancy. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, inform your doctor before taking Tamiflu. Tamiflu may appear in breast milk and could affect a nursing infant. Taking it while breastfeeding is usually not recommended.
Recommended dosage for Tamiflu
ADULTS AND CHILDREN 13 AND OLDER
Treatment of Influenza
The usual dosage is 75 milligrams taken twice daily (morning and evening) for 5 days. If you have kidney disease, take a 75-milligram dose once a day.
Prevention of Influenza
The usual dosage is 75 milligrams taken once a day for at least 7 days. If there is a general outbreak of the flu in your community, your doctor may recommend that you continue taking Tamiflu for up to 6 weeks. If you have kidney disease, take a 75-milligram capsule every other day, or 30 milligrams of liquid once a day.
CHILDREN 1 TO 12
Treatment of Influenza
Doses should be given twice daily for 5 days using the dispenser that comes with the liquid suspension. Each dose is determined by the child's weight:
Under 33 pounds: 30 milligrams
33 to 55 pounds: 45 milligrams
51 to 88 pounds: 60 milligrams
Over 88 pounds: 75 milligrams
Tamiflu should not be used to treat the flu in children under 1 year old.
Prevention of Influenza
Tamiflu's ability to prevent the flu in children under age 13 has not been established.
High doses of Tamiflu can cause nausea and vomiting. As with any medication, if you suspect an overdose, seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
There are steps you can take to prevent the flu from hitting you, your family* and others.
An annual flu shot.
To prevent getting the flu, or to lessen its severity, you should get a flu shot each fall, before flu season starts. This is particularly recommended if you are aged 50 and older or have a chronic health problem.
A flu vaccination is your best chance to protect against the flu. However, you may have heard that the vaccine is not 100% effective. Why? Because the flu strains it protects against may not be the same as the ones that are going around in your area. So even if you have received a flu shot, you could still get the flu.
Prevention you can swallow.
If you don't get the flu shot—or until the shot takes effect—you can still protect yourself and family members* from getting sick. Your doctor can write prescriptions for antiviral medications such as TAMIFLU in order to:
prevent widespread influenza outbreaks in shared living facilities, such as nursing homes and college dormitories
provide protection during the period of time needed for the flu shot to take effect
protect individuals who are unable to receive flu vaccinations. (If you are pregnant or allergic to eggs, ask your doctor about whether or not you should get a flu shot.)
If these conditions apply to you, consult with your doctor. Learn about the opportunity of preventing flu with antiviral medications such as TAMIFLU. These are available only by prescription and must be started within 2 days of flu exposure. TAMIFLU is approved for patients aged 1 year and older and is available in a choice of capsule or liquid suspension form.
In prophylaxis studies adverse events were qualitatively similar to those seen in the treatment studies, despite a longer duration of dosing. The most frequently reported adverse events were headache, fatigue and nausea.
Protecting family members.
If someone in your household is diagnosed with the flu, it? important to keep other members of the family* from getting sick. You can protect them by notifying your doctor within 2 days of being exposed in order to ask if TAMIFLU might be right for you as a prescription for preventative medicine.
Common sense measures for staying healthy.
Your chances of avoiding the flu are better when you:
Keep your distance from people with the flu.
Wash your hands frequently.
Avoid second-hand cigarette smoke.
Try to quit smoking.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a good diet, adequate sleep, low stress and lots of water to drink.
* TAMIFLU is indicated for the prevention of influenza in adults and adolescents aged 13 and older.