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Review: antiviral agents reduce the risk of influenza in healthy adults and alleviate symptoms faster than placebo

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 Q In healthy adults, do antiviral agents reduce the risk of influenza and improve outcomes in affected people?

Clinical impact ratings GP/FP/Primary care★★★★★☆☆ Public health ★★★★★★☆ Infectious disease ★★★★★☆☆


Embedded ImageData sources:

Medline (August 2005), EMBASE/Excerpta Medica (June 2005), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (issue 3, 2005), and reference lists.

Embedded ImageStudy selection and assessment:

randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared the prophylactic or treatment effects against influenza of amantadine, rimantadine, or neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir and zanamivir) with placebo, no treatment, or symptomatic treatment in otherwise healthy people 16–65 years of age. 53 RCTs met the selection criteria.

Embedded ImageOutcomes:

cases of symptomatic or asymptomatic influenza (confirmed by laboratory testing) and influenza-like illness (clinical criteria only), alleviation of symptoms and viral shedding or load in affected people, and adverse effects.


In prophylaxis trials, …

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  • For correspondence: Dr T Jefferson, Cochrane Vaccines Field, Alessandria, Italy. Toj1{at}

  • Sources of funding: UK Department of Health; Cochrane Review Incentive Scheme 2005; ASL 20, Alessandria, and ASL 19, Asti, Italy.