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Clin Ther. 2002 Nov;24(11):1786-99.

Risk for respiratory events in a cohort of patients receiving inhaled zanamivir: a retrospective study.

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  • 1Epidemiology & Safety Research Division, Ingenix, Inc., Auburndale, Massachusetts 02466, USA.



Inhaled zanamivir is indicated for treatment of uncomplicated acute illness due to influenza A and B viruses in patients aged > or = 12 years who have been symptomatic for no more than 2 days.


The primary objective of this study was to estimate the incidence of adverse respiratory events among zanamivir-treated patients under conditions of usual care.


The Ingenix research database includes insurance claims for all dispensations, inpatient and outpatient services, and procedures including the associated diagnoses and costs for a subset of all enrolled UnitedHealthcare members. We identified all persons with a dispensation of zanamivir recorded between October 1, 1999, and April 30, 2000. We captured medical and pharmaceutical claims data for the 6 months before the dispensation to obtain information about comorbidities, overall health status, and respiratory events. Medical and hospital record abstraction and clinical review served to confirm inpatient/emergency department (ED) events. We also examined the records of an approximately 10% random sample of patients treated for a potential respiratory event in an outpatient/ physician office visit during the 10-day follow-up period. Respiratory events not sufficiently severe to result in medical care were not captured in this study.


A total of 5498 eligible zanamivir dispensations contributed by 5450 patients (2911 females, 2539 males; mean age, 38.8 years), with 40 confirmed inpatient/ED respiratory events, were included in the study. Of these 40 events, 31 were pneumonia, bronchitis, or exacerbations of existing chronic respiratory disease; none required intubation or ventilation. No events occurred on the dispensation date. The overall risk for an inpatient/ ED respiratory event was 0.7 per 100 episodes (95% CI, 0.5-1.0). Seven events of wheezing or shortness of breath were not an obvious extension of the original influenza-like illness or of a complicating bronchitis (risk = 0.13 per 100 episodes; 95% CI, 0.06-0.26).


No immediate or severe bronchoconstrictive responses occurred among 5498 zanamivir dispensations. The overall risk for any respiratory event was low, and none was sufficiently severe to suggest respiratory failure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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