|Zanamivir Zanamivir

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Generic name: Zanamivir
Brand names: Relenza

Why is Zanamivir prescribed?

Zanamivir is an antiviral drug that hastens recovery from the flu. Victims who begin taking Zanamivir within the first 2 days of their illness typically start to feel improvement a day earlier than they would otherwise. The drug is believed to work by interfering with the spread of virus particles inside the respiratory tract.

Most important fact about Zanamivir

There is no evidence that Zanamivir protects you from catching the flu, and it will not prevent you from spreading the flu virus to others.

How should you take Zanamivir?

Zanamivir is delivered directly to the lungs by oral inhalation from a Diskhaler device. To benefit from the drug, you must begin taking it within 48 hours of feeling the first symptoms of flu, and must finish the entire 5-day course of treatment.

Be sure to take two doses on the first day, allowing at least 2 hours between them. On the following days, take a dose every 12 hours (morning and evening). Do not puncture a blister containing the drug until you are ready to use it.

Children should use Zanamivir only under the supervision of an adult.

--If you miss a dose...

Take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and go back to your regular schedule. Do not take 2 doses at the same time.

--Storage instructions...

Store at room temperature.

What side effects may occur?

Symptoms experienced during Zanamivir therapy are virtually the same as those associated with untreated flu. Problems reported during clinical tests are listed below.

  • More common side effects may include:
    Abdominal pain, bronchitis, cough, diarrhea, dizziness, ear infection, headache, fatigue, fever, hives, joint pain, muscle ache, nasal infection, nasal symptoms, nausea, sinus inflammation, throat infection, vomiting

Why should Zanamivir not be prescribed?

If Zanamivir gives you an allergic reaction, you cannot use Zanamivir.

Special warnings about Zanamivir

Zanamivir has been known to cause serious and potentially fatal breathing problems, especially in people who have asthma or other chronic pulmonary disorders. If you develop breathing difficulties such as wheezing or shortness of breath, stop taking Zanamivir and call your doctor immediately.

Zanamivir is generally not recommended for anyone with a chronic pulmonary disease. If you do use it under these circumstances, be extremely cautious, and make sure that you have a fast-acting inhaled bronchodilator (Proventil Inhaler or Ventolin Inhaler) available and ready to use whenever you take it. If you use an inhaled bronchodilator regularly and have a dose scheduled at the same time as Zanamivir, use the bronchodilator first.

Zanamivir can also cause serious allergic reactions. If you experience swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, or develop a skin rash, stop taking Zanamivir and contact your doctor.

Serious bacterial infections may begin with flu-like symptoms or may coexist with the flu. Zanamivir has no effect on such infections.

Zanamivir has not been tested in people with medical conditions severe enough for possible hospitalization. Use it with caution if you have any kind of serious health problem in addition to the flu.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking Zanamivir

Interactions are considered unlikely.

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

The effects of Zanamivir during pregnancy have not been adequately studied. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, inform your doctor. It is not known whether Zanamivir appears in breast milk. Caution is recommended if you are breastfeeding.

Recommended dosage

The recommended dose for adults and children 7 years and older is 2 inhalations (one 5-milligram blister per inhalation) twice a day, approximately 12 hours apart, for 5 days. Safety and efficacy have not been established for children under 7.


Substantially increased doses of Zanamivir have caused no increase in adverse reactions. Nevertheless, if you suspect an overdose of Zanamivir, it would be wise to check with your doctor.

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