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A Europe-wide study conducted over three flu seasons finds that the antiviral drug, oseltamivir (Tamiflu®), can help people recover from flu-like illness about one-day sooner on average, with older, sicker patients who have been unwell for longer recovering two-to-three days sooner.

Published today in The Lancet, the European Commission-funded ‘ALIC4E’ study was led by the Universities of Oxford (UK) and Utrecht (The Netherlands).

Despite being stockpiled in the UK since 2006 and being widely prescribed during the swine flu outbreak in 2009, oseltamivir remains one of the most controversial drugs in use. This is due to a lack of evidence from independent clinical trials to demonstrate its effectiveness in everyday care overall, and whether it benefits key groups of patients.

A member of a class of drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors, oseltamivir is recommended by public health agencies worldwide for treating and preventing severe outbreaks of seasonal and pandemic influenza.

Carried out with 3266 patients recruited from general practices across 15 European countries, and with 26 partner organisations, it is the first large-scale publicly funded, international trial of its kind to assess antiviral treatment for influenza-like illness in primary care.

Read more (University of Oxford)