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Neuraminidase inhibitors, oseltamivir and zanamivir, are used for the treatment of, and protection from, influenza. The safety of these compounds has been assessed in systematic reviews. However, the data presented are somewhat limited by the paucity of good quality adverse event data available. The majority of safety outcomes are based on evidence from just one or two randomised controlled trials. The results of the systematic reviews suggest that neuraminidase inhibitors have a reasonable side effect and adverse effect profile if they are to be used to treat or protect patients against a life-threatening disease. However, if these compounds are to be prescribed in situations in which avoidance of inconvenience or minor discomfort is hoped for, then the balance of harms to benefits will be more difficult to judge.
This document has been peer reviewed.