Patrick S. Walsh, MD: Pediatric Influenza Patients and Treatment With Oseltamivir

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A discussion was held regarding research on the use of antivirals on younger influenza patients.

In an interview with HCPLive, Patrick S. Walsh, MD, discussed his team’s research into the use of oseltamivir—a neuraminidase inhibitor—for pediatric patients with influenza.

Walsh works as an assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He and David Schnadower, MD, MPH, with the Division of Emergency Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, led their team in a study in which they identified evidence of oseltamivir’s use as an antiviral drug treatment specifically for younger influenza patients.

The team’s research had determined that among their sample size, influenza patients treated early with oseltamivir were found to have lower hospital readmission rates, lower rates of in-hospital mortality, and hospital quicker lengths-of-stay (LOS).

“We developed interest in the project early on in my fellowship because we were, honestly, somewhat skeptical of the evidence behind the drug oseltamivir,” Walsh said. “We thought, given the lack of evidence, we could potentially look into it a little bit further and a few years later, here we are.”

Prior to Walsh’s research, there had not been a significant amount of data regarding the specific use of oseltamivir in pediatric patients, although it had become accepted as the primary antiviral drug treatment for influenza patients since its approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999.

“I think there’s a few different reasons,” Walsh explained. “One, there are randomized clinical trials from back when it was first becoming FDA-approved, kind of in the pre-H1N1 time. It’s not that the data doesn’t exist, but there’s maybe some debate on how strong the evidence is for treatment with the drug.”

Walsh went on to describe his beliefs on the reason for the study’s use of a larger database, as well as the lack of significant background information on pediatric patient oseltamivir-use.

“I do think there’s a lack of evidence in the pediatric, and really any inpatient population, and I think the reason is probably because it’s difficult to get enough patients with the outcomes of interest to truly compare, which is part of why we designed the study the way we did, with such a large database,” he said.

The results of Walsh and colleagues’ research aligned with longstanding recommendations for the antiviral treatment’s use by healthcare providers.

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