Authors' conclusions: neuraminidase inhibitors provide a small benefit by shortening the duration of illness in children with seasonal influenza and reducing household transmission. They have little effect on asthma exacerbations or the use of antibiotics. Their effects on the incidence of serious complications and on the current A/H1N1 influenza strain remain to be determined.
Reviewers' commentary: the studies suggest that the neuraminidase inhibitors shorten the duration of symptoms usually between 0.5 and 1.5 days, being smaller the effect among the cases of clinical flu. There exist doubts on the clinical importance of the effect. The studies show homogeneous results for prevention with a reduction of 8% in the transmission of the flu; being the number needed to treat of 13 to prevent one additional household case of symptomatic influenza. Although at the present day the effect of the antiviral agents in reducing the disease or in preventing the complications for the new pandemic flu is unknown, the current evidence suggests that the potential benefit is limited and it seems reasonable to apply a restricted use of the neuraminidase inhibitors, valuing individually for each patient the risk level, the severity of the condition and the likelihood of the diagnosis.