Medical Definition of Agent, antiviral

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Agent, antiviral: An agent that kills viruses or suppresses their replication and, hence, inhibits their capability to multiply and reproduce.

For example, amantadine (Symmetrel) is a synthetic (man-made) drug that inhibits the multiplication of the influenza A virus and was once used to prevent the flu. Safer medicines such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) can be used to prevent the flu shortly after exposure or to reduce the severity. Flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick. However, starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high risk health condition or is very sick from the flu. (Neither drug is a substitute for flu shots).

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018