Although amantadine (AMT) and rimantadine (RMT) are used to relieve or treat influenza A symptoms in healthy adults, little is known about the effectiveness and safety of these antivirals in preventing and treating influenza A in children and the elderly.
The aim of this review was to systematically consider evidence on the effectiveness and safety of AMT and RMT in preventing and treating influenza A in children and the elderly.
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library, 2007, issue 3); MEDLINE (1966 to July 2007) and EMBASE (1980 to July 2007).
Randomised or quasi-randomised trials comparing AMT and/or RMT in children and the elderly with placebo, control, other antivirals or comparing different doses or schedules of AMT and/or RMT or no intervention.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently selected trials for inclusion and assessed methodological quality. Disagreements were resolved by consensus. In all comparisons except for one, the trials in children and in the elderly were analysed separately. Data were analysed and reported using Cochrane Review Manager 4.2. software.
In children, RMT was effective in the abatement of fever on day three of treatment. AMT showed a prophylactic effect against influenza A infection. AMT and RMT were not related to an increase in the occurrence of adverse effects. RMT also was considered to be well tolerated by the elderly, but showed no prophylactic effect. Different doses were comparable in the prophylaxis of influenza in the elderly, as well as in reporting adverse effects. Zanamivir prevented influenza A more effectively than RMT in the elderly.
AMT was effective in the prophylaxis of influenza A in children. As confounding matters might have affected our findings, caution should be taken when considering which patients should to be given this prophylactic. Our conclusions about effectiveness of both antivirals for the treatment of influenza A in children were limited to a proven benefit of RMT in the abatement of fever on day three of treatment. Due to the small number of available studies we could not reach a definitive conclusion on the safety of AMT or the effectiveness of RMT in preventing influenza in children and the elderly.