The flu drug 'Tamiflu' (oseltamivir) significantly decreases the risk of death from influenza-related complications such as pneumonia, according to studies presented to the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza this week.
Complications associated with influenza usually affect those vulnerable members of society such as the elderly and can cause bronchitis, sinusitis, otitis media and pneumonia.
The scientists found that Tamiflu has a very important effect in preventing mortality in patients with severe illness.
The findings came from two studies, the first, used data from a large US health insurer and analysed the amount of pneumonia, heart attacks and death that occurred during the month following influenza diagnosis and whether patients were treated with Tamiflu.
The second study used data from the Toronto Invasive Bacterial Disease Network and found that Tamiflu treatment in hospitalised patients led to clinical benefit.
The authors concluded that: "We know that Tamiflu leads to a significantly reduced incidence of influenza-related complications in a clinical trial setting," comments Dr Beth Nordstrom, epidemiologist, lead investigator of the mortality study described above.
"The results of our new study are valuable as they reveal, in a large population of "real-world" influenza patients, that there is a lower risk of complications and death among Tamiflu users than among individuals who did not receive treatment."