Patient Perceptions of Oseltamivir for the Treatment of Influenza

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Abstract

Objectives

Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is advertised for the treatment of influenza types A and B. Patient perceptions of its efficacy have not been adequately studied. Recent systematic reviews have called the benefits of this drug into question relative to the cost and adverse effect profile. We hypothesized that most people would be unaware of the efficacy, cost, or adverse effect profile of the drug. Our objective was to determine patient perceptions of efficacy, cost, and adverse effect profile of oseltamivir for the treatment of influenza.

Methods

This was a cross-sectional, multiple-choice, open-response survey of adult patients and adult caregivers of pediatric patients who presented to the emergency department (ED) with flu-like symptoms. Flu-like symptoms were defined as any respiratory symptom plus fever or body aches. The study took place during the 2014–2015 flu season at a rural ED. We analyzed the data, with descriptive statistics reported as frequencies/percentages for categorical data. Survey data collected as Likert scale data were summarized using mean, median, and mode.

Results

During the 4-month period, 70 surveys were completed. A total of 67% of the participants were women, with 84% younger than 40 years. Subjects younger than 40 years were more likely to have seen advertising for oseltamivir (31% vs 0%, P = 0.04). Less than half reported having received the flu vaccine that year. Most reported that oseltamivir was an effective treatment for the flu. Most overstated the perceived efficacy of oseltamivir. Most were not willing to take the medication if it had adverse effects, with the most deterring adverse effects being potential kidney and liver injury.

Conclusions

In our study most patients reported overly positive expectations for the efficacy of oseltamivir for treating influenza. Most reported that commonly listed adverse effects would deter their use of the medication.

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