Background: Oral oseltamivir administration is effective treatment for influenza in adults. This study was conducted to determine the efficacy, safety and tolerability of oseltamivir in children with influenza.
Methods: In this randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study, children 1 through 12 years with fever [> or =100 degrees F (> or =38 degrees C)] and a history of cough or coryza <48 h duration received oseltamivir 2 mg/kg/dose or placebo twice daily for 5 days. The primary efficacy endpoint was the time to resolution of illness including mild/absent cough and coryza mild/absent, return to normal activity and euthermia.
Results: Of 695 enrolled children 452 (65%) had influenza (placebo, n = 235; oseltamivir, n = 217). Among infected children the median duration of illness was reduced by 36 h (26%) in oseltamivir compared with placebo recipients (101 h; 95% confidence interval, 89 to 118 vs. 137 h; 95% confidence interval, 125 to 150; P < 0.0001). Oseltamivir treatment also reduced cough, coryza and duration of fever. New diagnoses of otitis media were reduced by 44% (12% vs. 21%). The incidence of physician-prescribed antibiotics was significantly lower in influenza-infected oseltamivir (68 of 217, 31%) than placebo (97 of 235, 41%; P = 0.03) recipients. Oseltamivir therapy was generally well-tolerated, although associated with an excess frequency of emesis (5.8%). Discontinuation because of adverse events was low in both groups (1.8% with oseltamivir vs. 1.1% with placebo). Oseltamivir treatment did not affect the influenza-specific antibody response.
Conclusions: Oral oseltamivir administration is an efficacious and well-tolerated therapy for influenza in children when given within 48 h of onset of illness.