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Press Release

For Immediate Release: December 17, 1999
Contact: CDC Media Relations (404) 639-3286

Neuraminidase Inhibitors for Treatment of Influenza A and B Infections

(MMWR Vol. 48/No. RR-14/December 17, 1999)

Influenza epidemics are responsible for an average of approximately 20,000 deaths per year in the United States. The main method for preventing influenza and its severe complications is influenza vaccination. Influenza-specific antiviral drugs are an important adjunct to vaccine but are not a substitute for vaccine. In the United States, four antiviral agents are approved for preventing or treating influenza: amantadine, rimantadine, zanamivir, and oseltamivir. Amantadine was approved for prophylaxis of influenza A(H2N2) infection in the United States in 1966 and was approved for prophylaxis and treatment of influenza A infection in 1976; rimantadine has been available since 1993. This report provides information on two neuraminidase inhibitors, zanamivir and oseltamivir, which were approved in 1999. Neuraminidase inhibitors are a new class of antiviral drugs that inhibit influenza A and B viruses. Zanamivir is approved for treatment of uncomplicated acute illness caused by influenza virus in persons aged 12 years who have been symptomatic for no more than 2 days. Oseltamivir is approved for treatment of uncomplicated illness caused by influenza infection in adults aged 18 years who have been symptomatic for no more than 2 days. Neither zanamivir nor oseltamivir is approved for influenza prophylaxis. This report and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) 1999 recommendations on influenza prevention and control (MMWR 1999;48[No.RR-4]:1-28) are available online at

The full report will be available on-line after 4 p.m. EST, December 16, 1999 at To receive an embargoed copy of the report (Adobe Acrobat file available only) send e-mail request to Subject: Flu drugs


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