Study shows no benefit from double dose of influenza antiviral

A study that took place between April 2007 and February 2010 showed there was no benefit in giving double doses of the antiviral oseltamivir to people hospitalized with severe influenza.

Influenza is usually a self limiting illness, which means it attacks its specific target and does not travel to other areas of the body. Sometimes, however, influenza can lead to respiratory problems among other issues.

Earlier studies have suggested that in situations like these oseltamivir could help reduce the mortality rate in patients if given early. This then led to suggestions that a double dose of the drug would help for severe cases of influenza.

Researchers at the South East Asian Infectious Disease Clinical Research Network conducted a study that involved 326 patients who all had severe cases of influenza. Patients were either given a single does of oseltamivir or a double dose.

The researchers found that there was no difference in the two groups of patients and the virus levels on day five were similar. They also found no differences in deaths or rates of adverse events between the different doses.

"A double dose oseltamivir is unlikely to significantly improve the clinical outcomes of severe cases of seasonal influenza," Ian Barr and Aeron Hurt, researchers from the WHO collaborating center for reference and research on influenza, said. "These findings could help to preserve oseltamivir stocks during a future pandemic ... if clinicians were to prescribe only regular rather than double doses."