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Prescription of antivirals in cases of seasonal influenza

In 2017, WHO downgraded oseltamivir (neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral treatment) in the list of essential medicines from a “core” drug to one that is “complementary” and deemed less cost effective.

In light of recent data from studies, summaries and meta-analyses on the efficacy and tolerance of oseltamivir, the French Haut Conseil de la santé publique (HCSP, High Council for Public Health) previous recommendations – which were already highly targeted – remain unchanged.

During circulation of the seasonal influenza viruses, the HCSP recommends targeted use of this antiviral as a curative treatment: in individuals at risk of complications targeted by the vaccine, including pregnant women and children of all ages, as well as in individuals immediately developing a severe case of influenza.

Post-exposure prophylaxis is intended solely for individuals deemed to be at risk for complications, from one year of age, as well as for communities of individuals at risk (the elderly).

Since the treatment’s effectiveness depends on how early it is administered, it must be initiated at the earliest possible opportunity, without awaiting virological confirmation of the case or close contact.

The HCSP underscores the importance of complying with hygiene measures during a patient’s treatment. It also highlights the importance of vaccinating target groups deemed at risk against seasonal influenza, according to the immunisation schedule.

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