New Data Show Tamiflu May Reduce Risk of Pneumonia in Flu Patients

WASHINGTON -- Treatment with the antiviral medication

Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) significantly reduced the risk of pneumonia in

patients diagnosed with flu, according to a new retrospective cohort study of

over 70,000 Americans.  Reduction in pneumonia incidence was most pronounced

in higher-risk groups, with a 59 percent decrease in older Americans, and a 66

percent decrease in children 12 and under.  The study was presented Sunday at

the InterScience Congress on Antimicrobial Agents & Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in

Washington, DC.


Using a database of medical and prescription claims, researchers analyzed

patients who had received a flu diagnosis during one or more seasons between

1999 and 2002.   Outcomes in patients treated with Tamiflu were compared to

those who had not been treated with any antiviral medication for three months

prior to flu diagnosis.  An analysis of three age groups, aged one and over,


    -- In patients age 1-12, risk of pneumonia was reduced by 66


    -- Patients 60 years and older saw a reduction of 59 percent

    -- In 13-59-year-olds, risk of pneumonia was reduced by 19 percent



"The results are a significant step in understanding a potential role for

Tamiflu in reducing risk of pneumonia and other sequelae of influenza," said

Dominick Iacuzio, PhD, medical director of Roche, which commissioned the study

and markets Tamiflu, a prescription antiviral approved for the prevention and

treatment of influenza.  "Based on these findings, Roche is investing in two

additional studies to further explore this therapeutic area."


Researchers measured pneumonia incidence by claims diagnosis, dispensing

of an antibiotic, or hospitalization within 30 days after a flu diagnosis.  In

some age groups, treatment with Tamiflu also decreased incidence of antibiotic

dispensing and hospitalization, though not all comparisons reach the same

level of significance.


Investigators analyzed each age group separately, and accounted for

numerous baseline variables using Cox proportional hazards models.


A study published in the Sept. 15, 2004 issue of the Journal of the

American Medical Association found that more than 200,000 people are

hospitalized each year because of flu-related illnesses, far more than the

114,000 annual hospitalizations previously estimated.  Flu complications are

more severe in people over 50 and the highest rates of hospitalizations are

found in people over 85.  The study also found that children under five are

hospitalized at higher rates than those in the 50-64 age group.  According to

the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an average of 36,000 people in the

United States die from influenza each year.


While most people recover from the flu without problems, the illness can

sometimes lead to serious complications, most commonly pneumonia.  Pneumonia

is a common illness that affects millions of people each year in the U.S. and

can range from mild to severe, even fatal.  The CDC cites more than 64,000

deaths from pneumonia in 2002.  Most deaths occur in those who are older or

whose immune systems are not working properly.  Pneumonia can be caused by

bacteria, viruses and fungi.  Viruses including influenza A, are the second

leading cause of pneumonia.



Source:  Roche