zanamivir, Relenza

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is zanamivir, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Zanamivir is an inhaled drug that is used for treating and preventing influenza (the "flu"). Zanamivir decreases the spread of influenza A and B viruses, the viruses responsible for the flu. It does this by blocking the action of neuraminidase, an enzyme produced by the viruses that enables the viruses to spread from infected cells to healthy cells. By preventing the spread of virus from cell to cell, the symptoms and duration of influenza infection are reduced. On average, zanamivir reduces the duration of symptoms by one day if treatment is started within forty-eight hours after symptoms begin. The FDA approved zanamivir in July 1999.

What brand names are available for zanamivir?

Relenza

Is zanamivir available as a generic drug?

No

Do I need a prescription for zanamivir?

Yes

What are the side effects of zanamivir?

The most frequent side effects are:

Other important side effects include:

Patients with respiratory diseases may experience breathing problems when treated with zanamivir due to irritation of the breathing tubes by the particles from the inhaler. If breathing problems occur, zanamivir should be discontinued. Patients who have asthma or other breathing problems that make them sensitive to inhaled particles should have a fast acting, inhaled bronchodilator available to treat any breathing problem that may occur when zanamivir is used.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/16/2017

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