Zanamivir is an inhibitor of the influenza neuramidase enzyme and is given by inhalation as therapy and prophylaxis against influenza A and B. Zanamivir has not been associated with clinically apparent liver injury, at least when given by inhalation.
Zanamivir (za nam' i vir) is a sialic acid analogue and a potent inhibitor of the neuraminidase of influenza viruses. Inhibition of this enzyme causes a decrease in viral replication, probably as a result of interference with particle formation and release. Zanamivir is active against both influenza A and B viruses, but has no activity against other common upper respiratory tract viruses. In addition, resistance to zanamivir can develop rapidly. Zanamivir is indicated for therapy or post-exposure prevention of influenza A or B. Zanamivir was approved in the United States in 1999 and is frequently used during influenza outbreaks. Zanamivir is available as a powder for inhalation (5 mg/blister pack) under the brand name of Relenza. The recommended dose for therapy in adults is 2 oral inhalations of 5 mg each, twice daily for 5 days; the usual prophylactic regimen is 10 mg once daily for 10 days, starting within 2 days of close contact with an infected person or for 28 days in a community setting. Side effects are uncommon and include mild nausea, dizziness, headache, cough, nasal and throat irritation and bronchospasm.
In randomized controlled trials, 2% to 3% of zanamivir recipients developed ALT or AST elevations above twice the upper limit of the normal range, but a similar rate was found in placebo-treated patients. Despite widespread use, there is little evidence that zanamivir when used by inhalation causes liver injury, either in the form of asymptomatic serum enzyme elevations or clinically apparent liver disease. In pilot studies of intravenous zanamivir for severe influenza, serum enzyme elevations have been reported in ~10% of patients, occasionally with jaundice, but the role of zanamivir versus the underlying severe viral infection has not been defined.
Mechanism of Injury
Zanamivir has little hepatic metabolism and does not affect cytochrome P450 (CYP) activity. The typical course of zanamivir is for 5 to 10 days only, and the brief exposure and minimal hepatic metabolism may account for its absence of hepatotoxicity when given by inhalation.
REPRESENTATIVE TRADE NAMES
Zanamivir – Relenza®
Product labeling at DailyMed, National Library of Medicine, NIH
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References updated: 04 January 2015
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