Recently two new neuraminidase inhibitors zanamivir and oseltamivir have been marketed. They appear to considerably reduce morbidity and mortality from influenza. Their adverse effects are infrequent and mild and the chance of development of pathogenically significant resistant mutants appears to be small. During the first six months of a pandemic, neuraminidase inhibitors are the only defence against the virus. It is therefore important to stockpile in each country sufficient quantities of these drugs. During the usual influenza epidemics the main value of neuraminidase inhibitors lies in their use for therapy, prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis in long-term care institutions for the elderly (for prophylaxis only oseltamivir is licensed). Although data on the effectiveness against complications of influenza and on the effect on people with an increased risk of (fatal) complications as a result of an influenza virus infection are limited, the available information on the effects of the neuraminidinase inhibitors indicates that these drugs will also protect against complications and that high-risk groups will benefit from the rapid deployment of these products. The cost-effectiveness of treatment and post-exposure prophylaxis with neuraminidinase inhibitors is probably not favourable for healthy children and adults but seems to be favourable for the high-risk groups (vaccinated or not) in winter.

Acetamides/*therapeutic use, Antiviral Agents/adverse effects/*therapeutic use, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Enzyme Inhibitors/adverse effects/*therapeutic use, Guanidines, Humans, Influenza, Human/*drug therapy/prevention & control, Neuraminidase/*antagonists & inhibitors, Oseltamivir, Pyrans, Risk Factors, Seasons, Sialic Acids/*therapeutic use, Zanamivir
Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Beyer, W.E.Ph, Rimmelzwaan, G.F, Fouchier, R.A.M, Osterhaus, A.D.M.E, & de Jong, J.C. (2004). De neuraminidaseremmers oseltamivir en zanamivir: een nieuw schild in de verdediging tegen influenza. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, 73–79. Retrieved from