Antiviral drugs prevent swine flu deaths: DAK

Srinagar, Jan 08: With seven deaths due to swine flu so far this season in Kashmir valley, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Tuesday called for early use of antiviral drugs for swine flu patients.
“Early antiviral medication prevents swine flu deaths,” said DAK President and flu expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a communiqué.
“A large meta-analysis of 78 studies conducted across 38 countries and involving more than 29,000 patients showed that early treatment with antiviral medication reduced the risk of death by 60 percent,” he said.
“Doctors should prescribe antiviral medication to flu patients as soon as possible and should not wait for the test results as delay could be fatal,” advised Dr Nisar.
“According to a panel report, 70 percent of swine flu deaths in 2017 at Pune were due to delay in treatment,” he said.
Dr Nisar said studies have shown that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 48 hours of onset of the illness. .
“However, starting them later can still be beneficial,” he added.
Dr Nisar said that antiviral treatment is recommended for any patient with confirmed or suspected flu who is hospitalized or has severe illness or is at higher risk of flu-related complications.
“Antivirals can also be considered on the basis of clinical judgment for those who do not have risk factors for severe illness,” he suggested.
“Currently, Oseltamivir is the most important and effective antiviral drug for treatment and prevention of flu. It has been removed from schedule drugs and made freely available across stores. The drug can be safely given to pregnant women and infants aged 2 weeks and older,” said Dr Nisar.
“Another new drug Baloxavir, approved by FDA for treatment of flu in patients 12 years and older has to be taken as a single oral dose,” he informed.
“Swine flu (H1N1) is the dominant strain circulating this year and it is turning out to be nastier. With increase in the number of cases and deaths due to swine flu, antivirals are an important weapon to fight this season’s flu which is shaping up to be harsh,” cautioned Dr Nisar.