About antiviral drugs

WHO recommends the use of a class of influenza-specific antiviral drugs, the neuraminidase inhibitors oseltamivir and zanamivir, for the treatment of influenza.

During seasonal epidemics, antivirals are considered an important adjunct to vaccination to reduce the medical and economic burden of influenza. Their use can reduce the duration of uncomplicated disease and the likelihood of complications requiring antimicrobial treatment and possibly hospitalization. However, antivirals can and should not replace supportive care in severely ill patients.

Since influenza viruses may develop resistance to either oseltamivir or zanamivir, influenza surveillance networks in Member States of the WHO European Region conduct detailed analyses of influenza viruses to determine whether resistance to either oseltamivir or zanamivir has occurred and whether resistant viruses are spreading in the community. Such an event would require countries to review their recommendations on the use of antivirals. Data on antiviral resistance is presented in the EuroFlu bulletin.