Ten Things You May Not Know About Tamiflu

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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December and January are top months for flu, and therefore, Tamiflu (oseltamivir). Here are some things to know about the pill that may save you.

  1. Tamiflu (oseltamivir) has activity against influenza A and B unlike amantadine and rimantadine (Flumadine), which only have activity against influenza A.
  2. Tamiflu reduces the time of improvement by 1.3 days (30%) compared to patients receiving placebo.
  3. For it to work, you must begin Tamiflu within 48 hours of symptom onset.
  4. Tamiflu is not considered a substitute for annual influenza virus vaccination and trust me, it’s not.
  5. Tamiflu works by inhibiting the enzyme (viral neuraminidase) which promotes the spread of a virus in the respiratory tract.
  6. Tamiflu-resistant strains of the virus have shown up during some flu seasons and in some geographic locations.
  7. The most frequent side effect from Tamiflu is nausea and vomiting. In adults, nausea was reported in 8% of those taking Tamiflu.
  8. Tamiflu will not work for colds, or other viral infections.
  9. In December of 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Tamiflu for the treatment of influenza in infants aged 2 weeks and older.
  10. There are no known interactions between Tamiflu and any other medication so it is fine to take along with other meds.

Dr O.

Tamiflu is covered by many insurance plans as a Tier 2 drug, meaning a moderately high copay. A course of the 75 mg twice daily dose (10 capsules) will run about $110 – $120 if you are paying out of pocket.

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