"Nov. 14, 2012 -- Does the blockbuster flu drug Tamiflu really work?
Nobody knows for sure, claims the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration, a group that issues careful analyses of the evidence behind drugs and vaccines. Cochrane researc"...
Mechanism Of Action
Absorption and Bioavailability
Oseltamivir is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract after oral administration of oseltamivir phosphate and is extensively converted predominantly by hepatic esterases to oseltamivir carboxylate. At least 75% of an oral dose reaches the systemic circulation as oseltamivir carboxylate. Exposure to oseltamivir is less than 5% of the total exposure after oral dosing (see Table 8).
Table 8 : Mean (% CV)
Pharmacokinetic Parameters of Oseltamivir and Oseltamivir Carboxylate Following
Multiple Dosing of 75 mg Capsules Twice Daily (n=20)
|Cmax (ng/mL)||65 (26)||348 (18)|
|AUC0-12h (ngh/mL)||112 (25)||2719 (20)|
Plasma concentrations of oseltamivir carboxylate are proportional to doses up to 500 mg given twice daily.
Coadministration with food has no significant effect on the peak plasma concentration (551 ng/mL under fasted conditions and 441 ng/mL under fed conditions) and the area under the plasma concentration time curve (6218 ng·h/mL under fasted conditions and 6069 ng·h/mL under fed conditions) of oseltamivir carboxylate.
The volume of distribution (Vss) of oseltamivir carboxylate, following intravenous administration in 24 subjects, ranged between 23 and 26 liters.
The binding of oseltamivir carboxylate to human plasma protein is low (3%). The binding of oseltamivir to human plasma protein is 42%, which is insufficient to cause significant displacement-based drug interactions.
Oseltamivir is extensively converted to oseltamivir carboxylate by esterases located predominantly in the liver. Neither oseltamivir nor oseltamivir carboxylate is a substrate for, or inhibitor of, cytochrome P450 isoforms.
Absorbed oseltamivir is primarily ( > 90%) eliminated by conversion to oseltamivir carboxylate. Plasma concentrations of oseltamivir declined with a half-life of 1 to 3 hours in most subjects after oral administration. Oseltamivir carboxylate is not further metabolized and is eliminated in the urine. Plasma concentrations of oseltamivir carboxylate declined with a half-life of 6 to 10 hours in most subjects after oral administration. Oseltamivir carboxylate is eliminated entirely ( > 99%) by renal excretion. Renal clearance (18.8 L/h) exceeds glomerular filtration rate (7.5 L/h), indicating that tubular secretion occurs in addition to glomerular filtration. Less than 20% of an oral radiolabeled dose is eliminated in feces.
Administration of 100 mg of oseltamivir phosphate twice daily for 5 days to subjects with various degrees of renal impairment showed that exposure to oseltamivir carboxylate is inversely proportional to declining renal function.
Population-derived pharmacokinetic parameters were determined for patients with varying degrees of renal function including ESRD patients on hemodialysis. Median simulated exposures of oseltamivir carboxylate for recommended treatment and prophylaxis regimens are provided in Table 9. The pharmacokinetics of oseltamivir have not been studied in ESRD patients not undergoing dialysis [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Table 9 : Simulated Median Treatment Exposure Metrics
of Oseltamivir Carboxylate in Normal, Renally Impaired and ESRD Patients on
|Renal Function/ Impairment||Normal Creatinine Clearance 90-140 mL/min
|Mild Creatinine Clearance 60-90 mL/min
|Moderate Creatinine Clearance 30-60 mL/min
|Severe Creatinine Clearance 10-30 mL/min
|ESRD Creatinine Clearance < 10 mL/min on Hemodialysis
|Recommended Treatment Regimens|
|PK exposure parameter||75 mg twice daily||75 mg twice daily||30 mg twice daily||30 mg once daily||30 mg every HD cycle|
|Recommended Prophylaxis Regimens|
|PK exposure parameter||75 mg once daily||75 mg once daily||30 mg once daily||30 mg every other day||30 mg alternate HD cycle|
|*AUC normalized to 48 hours.|
In continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) patients, the peak concentration of oseltamivir carboxylate following a single 30 mg dose of oseltamivir or once weekly oseltamivir was approximately 3-fold higher than in patients with normal renal function who received 75 mg twice daily. The plasma concentration of oseltamivir carboxylate on Day 5 (147 ng/mL) following a single 30 mg dose in CAPD patients is similar to the predicted Cmin (160 ng/mL) in patients with normal renal function following 75 mg twice daily. Administration of 30 mg once weekly to CAPD patients resulted in plasma concentrations of oseltamivir carboxylate at the 168 hour blood sample of 63 ng/mL, which were comparable to the Cmin in patients with normal renal function receiving the approved regimen of 75 mg once daily (40 ng/mL).
A pooled population pharmacokinetic analysis indicates that the TAMIFLU dosage regimen [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION] resulted in lower exposure to the active metabolite in pregnant women (n=59) compared to non-pregnant women (n=33). However, this predicted exposure is expected to have activity against susceptible influenza virus strains and there are insufficient pharmacokinetics and safety data to recommend a dose adjustment for pregnant women.
Pediatric Subjects (1 to 12 years of age)
The pharmacokinetics of oseltamivir and oseltamivir carboxylate have been evaluated in a single-dose pharmacokinetic study in pediatric subjects aged 5 to 16 years (n=18) and in a small number of pediatric subjects aged 3 to 12 years (n=5) enrolled in a clinical trial. Younger pediatric subjects cleared both the prodrug and the active metabolite faster than adult subjects resulting in a lower exposure for a given mg/kg dose. For oseltamivir carboxylate, apparent total clearance decreases linearly with increasing age (up to 12 years). The pharmacokinetics of oseltamivir in pediatric subjects over 12 years of age are similar to those in adult subjects.
Pediatric Subjects (2 weeks to less than 1 year of age)
The pharmacokinetics of oseltamivir and oseltamivir carboxylate have been evaluated in two open-label studies of pediatric subjects less than one year of age (n=122) infected with influenza. Apparent clearance of the active metabolite decreases with decreasing age in subjects less than 1 year of age; however the oseltamivir and oseltamivir carboxylate exposure following a 3 mg/kg dose in subjects under 1 year of age is expected to be within the observed exposures in adults and adolescents receiving 75 mg twice daily and 150 mg twice daily.
Exposure to oseltamivir carboxylate at steady-state was 25% to 35% higher in geriatric subjects (age range 65 to 78 years) compared to young adults given comparable doses of oseltamivir. Half-lives observed in the geriatric subjects were similar to those seen in young adults. Based on drug exposure and tolerability, dose adjustments are not required for geriatric patients for either treatment or prophylaxis [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Mechanism of Action
Oseltamivir phosphate is an ethyl ester prodrug requiring ester hydrolysis for conversion to the active form, oseltamivir carboxylate. Oseltamivir carboxylate is an inhibitor of influenza virus neuraminidase affecting release of viral particles. The median IC50 values of oseltamivir against influenza A/H1N1, influenza A/H3N2, and influenza B clinical isolates were 2.5 nM (range 0.93-4.16 nM, N=74), 0.96 nM (range 0.13-7.95 nM, N=774), and 60 nM (20-285 nM, N=256), respectively, in a neuraminidase assay with a fluorescently labeled MUNANA substrate.
The antiviral activity of oseltamivir carboxylate against laboratory strains and clinical isolates of influenza virus was determined in cell culture. The concentrations of oseltamivir carboxylate required for inhibition of influenza virus in cell culture were highly variable depending on the assay method used and the virus tested. The 50% and 90% effective concentrations (EC50 and EC90) were in the range of 0.0008 μM to > 35 μM and 0.004 μM to > 100 μM, respectively (1 μM=0.284 μg/mL). The relationship between the antiviral activity in cell culture, inhibitory activity in the neuraminidase assay, and the inhibition of influenza virus replication in humans has not been established.
Cell culture studies: Influenza A virus isolates with reduced susceptibility to oseltamivir carboxylate have been recovered by serial passage of virus in cell culture in the presence of increasing concentrations of oseltamivir carboxylate. Reduced susceptibility of influenza virus to inhibition by oseltamivir carboxylate may be conferred by amino acid substitutions in the viral neuraminidase and/or hemagglutinin proteins.
Clinical studies: Reduced susceptibility isolates have been obtained during treatment with oseltamivir and from sampling during community surveillance studies. Changes in the viral neuraminidase that have been associated with reduced susceptibility to oseltamivir carboxylate are summarized in Table 10. The clinical impact of this reduced susceptibility is unknown. Hemagglutinin substitutions associated with oseltamivir resistance include A28T and R124M in influenza A H3N2 and H154Q in H1N9, a reassortant human/avian virus.
Table 10 : Neuraminidase Amino Acid Substitutions
Associated with Reduced Susceptibility to Oseltamivir
|Amino Acid Substitution*||Source|
|Influenza A N1 (N1 numbering in brackets)|
|D198G/N (D199G/N)||Roche clinical trial, publication|
|H274Y (H275Y)||Roche clinical trial, publication|
|Influenza A N2|
|E119I/V||Roche clinical trial, publication|
|SASG245-248 deletion||Roche clinical trial, publication|
|R292K||Roche clinical trials, publication|
|Influenza B (B numbering in brackets)|
|A246D/S/T (A245D/S/T)||Roche clinical trial, publication|
|* All numbering is N2, except where indicated|
Selection of influenza A viruses resistant to oseltamivir can occur at higher frequencies in children. The incidence of oseltamivir treatment-associated resistance in pediatric treatment studies has been detected at rates of 27% to 37% and 3% to 18% (3/11 to 7/19 and 1/34 to 9/50 post-treatment isolates, respectively) for influenza A/H1N1 and influenza A/H3N2, respectively. The frequency of resistance selection to oseltamivir and the prevalence of such resistant virus vary seasonally and geographically.
Circulating seasonal influenza strains expressing neuraminidase resistance-associated substitutions have been observed in individuals who have not received oseltamivir treatment. The oseltamivir resistance-associated substitution H275Y was found in > 99% of US circulating 2008 H1N1 influenza virus isolates. The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (“swine flu”) was almost uniformly susceptible to oseltamivir. Prescribers should consider available information from the CDC on influenza virus drug susceptibility patterns and treatment effects when deciding whether to use TAMIFLU.
Cross-resistance between oseltamivir and zanamivir has been observed in neuraminidase biochemical assays. The H275Y (N1 numbering) or N294S (N2 numbering) oseltamivir resistance-associated substitutions observed in the N1 neuraminidase subtype, and the E119V or N294S oseltamivir resistance-associated substitutions observed in the N2 subtype (N2 numbering), are associated with reduced susceptibility to oseltamivir but not zanamivir. The Q136K and K150T zanamivir resistance-associated substitutions observed in N1 neuraminidase, or the S250G zanamivir resistance-associated substitutions observed in influenza B virus neuraminidase, confer reduced susceptibility to zanamivir but not oseltamivir. The R292K oseltamivir resistance-associated substitution observed in N2, and the I222T, D198E/N, R371K, or G402S oseltamivir resistance-associated substitutions observed in influenza B virus neuraminidase, confer reduced susceptibility to both oseltamivir and zanamivir. These examples do not represent an exhaustive list of cross resistance-associated substitutions and prescribers should consider available information from the CDC on influenza drug susceptibility patterns and treatment effects when deciding whether to use TAMIFLU.
No single amino acid substitution has been identified that could confer cross-resistance between the neuraminidase inhibitor class (oseltamivir, zanamivir) and the M2 ion channel inhibitor class (amantadine, rimantadine). However, a virus may carry a neuraminidase inhibitor associated substitution in neuraminidase and an M2 ion channel inhibitor associated substitution in M2 and may therefore be resistant to both classes of inhibitors. The clinical relevance of phenotypic cross-resistance evaluations has not been established.
No influenza vaccine/oseltamivir interaction study has been conducted. In studies of naturally acquired and experimental influenza, treatment with TAMIFLU did not impair normal humoral antibody response to infection.
Animal Toxicology And/Or Pharmacology
Single, oral administration of ≥ 657 mg/kg oseltamivir resulted in toxicity, including death, in juvenile 7 day old rats, but had no effect on adult rats. No toxicity was observed after repeated administration of up to 500 mg/kg oseltamivir to developing juvenile rats 7 to 21 days old. This 500 mg/kg dose was approximately 280 and 14 times the human systemic exposure (AUC0-24h) of oseltamivir and oseltamivir carboxylate, respectively. Clinical relevance of the juvenile rat study finding for young infants is unknown.
Treatment Of Influenza
Adult and Adolescent Subjects (13 years of age and older)
Two placebo-controlled double-blind clinical trials were conducted: one in the U.S. and one outside the U.S. Subjects were eligible for these trials if they had fever > 100°F, accompanied by at least one respiratory symptom (cough, nasal symptoms, or sore throat) and at least one systemic symptom (myalgia, chills/sweats, malaise, fatigue, or headache) and influenza virus was known to be circulating in the community. In addition, all subjects enrolled in the trials were allowed to take fever-reducing medications.
Of 1355 subjects enrolled in these two trials, 849 (63%) subjects were influenza-infected (age range 18 to 65 years; median age 34 years; 52% male; 90% Caucasian; 31% smokers). Of the 849 influenza-infected subjects, 95% were infected with influenza A, 3% with influenza B, and 2% with influenza of unknown type.
TAMIFLU was started within 40 hours of onset of symptoms. Subjects participating in the trials were required to self-assess the influenza-associated symptoms as “none,” “mild,” “moderate,” or “severe.” Time to improvement was calculated from the time of treatment initiation to the time when all symptoms (nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, aches, fatigue, headaches, and chills/sweats) were assessed as “none” or “mild.” In both studies, at the recommended dose of TAMIFLU 75 mg twice daily for 5 days, there was a 1.3 day reduction in the median time to improvement in influenza-infected subjects receiving TAMIFLU compared to subjects receiving placebo. Subgroup analyses of these studies by gender showed no differences in the treatment effect of TAMIFLU in men and women.
In the treatment of influenza, no increased efficacy was demonstrated in subjects receiving treatment of 150 mg TAMIFLU twice daily for 5 days.
Three double-blind placebo-controlled treatment trials were conducted in subjects ≥ 65 years of age in three consecutive seasons. The enrollment criteria were similar to that of adult trials with the exception of fever being defined as > 97.5°F. Of 741 subjects enrolled, 476 (65%) subjects were influenza-infected. Of the 476 influenza-infected subjects, 95% were infected with influenza type A and 5% with influenza type B.
In the pooled analysis, at the recommended dose of TAMIFLU 75 mg twice daily for 5 days, there was a 1-day reduction in the median time to improvement in influenza-infected subjects receiving TAMIFLU compared to those receiving placebo (p=NS). However, the magnitude of treatment effect varied between studies.
Pediatric Subjects (1 to 12 years of age)
One double-blind placebo-controlled treatment trial was conducted in pediatric subjects aged 1 to 12 years (median age 5 years), who had fever ( > 100°F) plus one respiratory symptom (cough or coryza) when influenza virus was known to be circulating in the community. Of 698 subjects enrolled in this trial, 452 (65%) were influenza-infected (50% male; 68% Caucasian). Of the 452 influenza-infected subjects, 67% were infected with influenza A and 33% with influenza B.
The primary endpoint in this study was the time to freedom from illness, a composite endpoint that required 4 individual conditions to be met. These were: alleviation of cough, alleviation of coryza, resolution of fever, and parental opinion of a return to normal health and activity. TAMIFLU treatment of 2 mg/kg twice daily, started within 48 hours of onset of symptoms, significantly reduced the total composite time to freedom from illness by 1.5 days compared to placebo. Subgroup analyses of this study by gender showed no differences in the treatment effect of TAMIFLU in male and female pediatric subjects.
Pediatric Subjects (2 weeks to less than 1 year of age)
Two open label trials evaluated the safety and pharmacokinetics of oseltamivir and oseltamivir carboxylate in influenza-infected pediatric subjects 2 weeks to less than 1 year of age (including premature infants at least 36 weeks post conceptional age). Subjects received TAMIFLU at doses ranging from 2 to 3.5 mg/kg twice daily for 5 days depending on subject age. These clinical trials were not designed to evaluate clinical efficacy or virologic response.
Of the 136 subjects under the age of 1 year enrolled and dosed in the trials, the majority of the subjects were male (55%), white (79%), non-Hispanic (74%), full term (76%) and infected with influenza A (80%). Pharmacokinetic data indicated that a dose of 3 mg/kg twice daily in pediatric subjects 2 weeks to less than 1 year of age provided TAMIFLU concentrations similar to or higher than those observed in older pediatric subjects and adults receiving the approved dose and, by extrapolation, is expected to provide similar efficacy. The trials provided adequate safety data to support this dose selection [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].
Prophylaxis Of Influenza
Adult and Adolescent Subjects (13 years of age and older)
The efficacy of TAMIFLU in preventing naturally occurring influenza illness has been demonstrated in three seasonal prophylaxis studies and a postexposure prophylaxis study in households. The primary efficacy parameter for all these studies was the incidence of laboratory-confirmed clinical influenza. Laboratory-confirmed clinical influenza was defined as oral temperature ≥ 99.0°F/37.2°C plus at least one respiratory symptom (cough, sore throat, nasal congestion) and at least one constitutional symptom (aches and pain, fatigue, headache, chills/sweats), all recorded within 24 hours, plus either a positive virus isolation or a four-fold increase in virus antibody titers from baseline.
In a pooled analysis of two seasonal prophylaxis studies in healthy unvaccinated adults (aged 13 to 65 years), TAMIFLU 75 mg once daily taken for 42 days during a community outbreak reduced the incidence of laboratory-confirmed clinical influenza from 5% (25/519) for the placebo group to 1% (6/520) for the TAMIFLU group.
In a seasonal prophylaxis study in elderly residents of skilled nursing homes, TAMIFLU 75 mg once daily taken for 42 days reduced the incidence of laboratory-confirmed clinical influenza from 4% (12/272) for the placebo group to < 1% (1/276) for the TAMIFLU group. About 80% of this elderly population were vaccinated, 14% of subjects had chronic airway obstructive disorders, and 43% had cardiac disorders.
In a study of postexposure prophylaxis in household contacts (aged ≥ 13 years) of an index case, TAMIFLU 75 mg once daily administered within 2 days of onset of symptoms in the index case and continued for 7 days reduced the incidence of laboratory-confirmed clinical influenza from 12% (24/200) in the placebo group to 1% (2/205) for the TAMIFLU group. Index cases did not receive TAMIFLU in the study.
Pediatric Subjects (1 to 12 years of age)
The efficacy of TAMIFLU in preventing naturally occurring influenza illness has been demonstrated in a randomized, open-label, postexposure prophylaxis study in households that included pediatric subjects aged 1 to 12 years, both as index cases and as family contacts. All index cases in this study received treatment. The primary efficacy parameter for this study was the incidence of laboratory-confirmed clinical influenza in the household. Laboratory-confirmed clinical influenza was defined as oral temperature ≥ 100°F/37.8°C plus cough and/or coryza recorded within 48 hours, plus either a positive virus isolation or a four-fold or greater increase in virus antibody titers from baseline or at illness visits. Among household contacts 1 to 12 years of age not already shedding virus at baseline, TAMIFLU for oral suspension 30 mg to 60 mg taken once daily for 10 days reduced the incidence of laboratory-confirmed clinical influenza from 17% (18/106) in the group not receiving prophylaxis to 3% (3/95) in the group receiving prophylaxis.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted for seasonal prophylaxis of influenza in 475 immunocompromised subjects (including 18 pediatric subjects 1 to 12 years of age) who had received solid organ (n=388; liver, kidney, liver and kidney) or hematopoietic stem cell transplants (n=87). Median time since transplant for solid organ transplant recipients was 1105 days for the placebo group and 1379 days for the oseltamivir group. Median time since transplant for hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients was 424 days for the placebo group and 367 days for the oseltamivir group. Approximately 40% of subjects received influenza vaccine prior to entering the study. The primary efficacy endpoint for this study was the incidence of confirmed, clinical influenza, defined as oral temperature > 99.0°F/37.2°C plus cough and/or coryza, all recorded within 24 hours, plus either a positive virus culture or a four-fold increase in virus antibody titers from baseline. The incidence of confirmed clinical influenza was 3% (7/238) in the group not receiving TAMIFLU compared with 2% (5/237) in the group receiving TAMIFLU; this difference was not statistically significant. A secondary analysis was performed using the same clinical symptoms and RT-PCR for laboratory confirmation of influenza infection. Among subjects who were not already shedding virus at baseline, the incidence of RTPCR-confirmed clinical influenza infection was 3% (7/231) in the group not receiving TAMIFLU and < 1% (1/232) in the group receiving TAMIFLU.
Last reviewed on RxList: 12/15/2014
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Additional Tamiflu Information
Tamiflu - User Reviews
Tamiflu User Reviews
Now you can gain knowledge and insight about a drug treatment with Patient Discussions.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
Find out what women really need.