Tamiflu Abundant but Compliance Scarce: Treatment Potential Unattainable Without Adherence

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Even with the increased availability of antiviral medications such as Tamiflu, health care officials advise that patients remember that adherence to a drug regimen is crucial to the outcome of treatment plans. Ensuring that medications are taken properly, completely and specifically as directed by a physician or pharmacist are the key to successfully fighting off illnesses such as influenza. For children, compliance can be improved to over 90% with the addition of flavoring such as FLAVORx.

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because schools are an excellent place for flu viruses to attack and spread, families with school-age children have more infections than other families with an average of 1/3 of the family members infected each year.

Roche recently announced that for the 2006/2007 flu season, pharmacies can expect to double their stock of Tamiflu in comparison to last year. This increased production has pharmacists, healthcare practitioners and patients alike feeling assured that they will be able to receive the medication needed to treat flu symptoms. However, health care officials and researchers warn that if patients fail to adhere to medication regimens, they may in fact be contributing to failed treatment programs (deterioration of health, use of extra drugs, additional consultations), higher costs of care and most severe, the development of drug resistant organisms that cause further the spread of disease. This is of extreme concern for pediatric patients who are not only 2-3 times more likely to contract the flu, but also only 50% compliant when it comes to taking medications.

Children are at an increased risk for influenza-related hospitalizations and much more likely to spread infection to other children, family members and even out-of-home caregivers. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), "because schools are an excellent place for flu viruses to attack and spread, families with school-age children have more infections than other families with an average of 1/3 of the family members infected each year."

A key contributor to non-adherence in children is palatability. Bitter taste or foul smell can make a child extremely resistant to swallowing a medication. Studies have shown that compliance with therapy is directly related to palatability and, for certain medications, the only motivation for a child to take a medication may be taste. For children, swallowing medications can be particularly problematic because pills are difficult to swallow and liquid suspensions have direct contact with their sensitive taste buds.

Medications like Tamiflu are prepared in suspension for children and infants who have difficulty swallowing pills but are found to be particularly bitter. Safe, effective flavoring systems such as FLAVORx are able to mask the existing taste of the medication and convert the suspension to a flavor of the patient’s choice. FLAVORx’s 42 flavors are FDA-approved, non-allergenic, sugar-free, dye-free and phosphate free. In over 40 million flavorings, the company has yet to report any incidence of adverse reaction, allergy or changes in efficacy. Each medication’s flavoring ‘recipe’ or formulary must undergo rigorous safety and stability testing prior to its release to patients. Studies show that in children compliance improves to over 90% with the addition of FLAVORx to medications. Behavior such as this enhances treatment outcomes by eliminating symptoms, improving health and decreasing the likelihood of infectious spread.

According to Kenny Kramm, President and CEO of FLAVORx, Inc, “Medications like Tamiflu and other antivirals are extremely bitter, especially for sensitive young palates. Until people actually taste or smell the medications that they’re forcing their children and patients to take, they don’t realize how physically intolerable medications can be.”

Taking a medication improperly or not completing a full regimen leads to a reduction in symptoms, but does not lead to eradication of an illness. While seemingly inconsequential, not fully ridding the body of infection could lead to children and adults returning to school or the workplace symptom-free but still as viral carriers. The virus will not be completely contained and infection will continue to spread, likely with a more virulent strain that has become partially resistant to a drug’s effects, and rendering the original drug virtually ineffective.

For more information on FLAVORx, please visit http://www.flavorx.com or contact Teresa Chen at 800.884.5771 extension 234.

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Teresa Chen
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