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CDC Recommending Antivirals As Flu Is Widespread Across Most of the US

By , January 10th, 2015 | 9 Comments »

Flue is widespread, CDC recommends antivirals
The flu season has reached about the halfway point and it’s been a bad season thus far. The US is seeing widespread flu across most of the US, and making things worse is that this year’s vaccines aren’t very effective against the most prevalent flu strain making its way across the nation. This has prompted the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to push antiviral drugs early to those who come down with the virus. The CDC sent letters to doctors across the nation on Friday recommending prompt use of Tamiflu, or other antivirals, for patients hospitalized with the flu, and those who are at high risk to have other complications such as the elderly and children.

The director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, has made it clear that it’s of the utmost importance this year for doctors to immediately treat high risk patients with Tamiflu or other antiviral medications. CDC data suggests doctors are currently treating only one in five high risk patients with antiviral medicines, and they want this number to be higher.

Antivirals can be effective if given promptly once flu symptoms arise, according to the CDC. Antivirals given within two days after flu symptoms arise have the potential to lessen the number of days a person is sick with the flu. These drugs can also keep patients from getting so sick they need to be admitted to the hospital intensive care unit, or even dying. The CDC has announced loud and clear that antivirals save lives when used.

The CDC is asking doctors not to wait for flu confirmation with the highest risk patients including children, pregnant women, those very sick with the flu, the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease. With these patients antivirals should be prescribed if flu is suspected even before officially confirming with test results. The CDC reiterated this message to doctors on Friday, also noting there is a new antiviral called Rapivab which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month. This new antiviral can be given to patients who can’t take Tamiflu, or another antiviral called Relenza.

Part of the problem is that some doctors don’t feel antivirals work. Last year the Cochrane Collaboration, a respected network of researchers around the world, reviewed studies on antivirals and came to the conclusion the evidence doesn’t support the claims that Tamiflu is able to reduce flu complications and hospitalizations. While the CDC acknowledges the group’s work, it claims the the research the Cochrane Collaboration used had limitations. Specifically, none of the studies included patients who were hospitalized with the flu. The CDC is making its recommendations based on observational studies which aren’t as rigorous, but do include flu patients who have been hospitalized. These suggest the antivirals do provide a benefit.

This comes as the CDC announced that flu is now widespread in 46 out of the 50 states. The current flu season is in week number seven. A typical flus season lasts about thirteen weeks. For those who haven’t gotten a flu shot, it’s still highly recommended. Even though it isn’t as effective as in past years, it still can lessen the symptoms and it does protect against other flu variations which are also out there this season. Of course, the best course of action is to take steps to avoid getting the flu in the first place.

(Image courtesy of the CDC)

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  • Christine says:

    This proves the CDC doesn’t look at research. Scientist say these drugs don’t work, but they ignore them in favor of the big drug companies. it’s all a scam.

    • dave says:

      Did you read the article? The CDC says that the study has some limitations. None of the studies had patience who were in the hospital. They are using other data which includes these patients.

      • Christine says:

        Yes, studies that aren’t as thorough. Let’s use the ones that support what we want even if they aren’t as good.

        • Dave says:

          So you’re solution is to give them nothing and let these patients get sicker than they need to be, or even possibly die?

        • greg says:

          “Yes, studies that aren’t as thorough. Let’s use the ones that support what we want even if they aren’t as good.”

          You believe in homeopathy? Oh, the irony…

  • Erik says:

    I have to agree with Dave. If you don’t trust medicine don’t use it. The center for disease control is not pushing rx’s on people. They are encouraging it for our health. When a physician gives you a medication that is why they give you a CIIC (Client Information for Informed Consent) with that medication. They don’t care if you go home and throw it away but at least they did the best they could for you! I say thank you to the CDC and to my doctors. We are all living much longer than we were in the past because of them!

  • Maggie says:

    Tamiflu worked great for my husband. He came down with what was starting to look like a very bad case of the flu about a week ago. I had him in the Urgent Care center the same day and had Tamiflu in my hands by that evening. Within 3 days he no longer had any fever whatsoever and although he felt somewhat bad those few days, he wasn’t under the covers running a 104+ fever at any time. By day 3 he was walking around almost normal and all symptoms were gone in another day or so. I’ve had a bad flu in prior years – it didn’t go that well at all and it certainly wasn’t gone in 3 to 4 days. Best part of it? None of the other family members got sick.


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