WHAT IS AN ANTIVIRAL ?
An agent that kills a virus or that suppresses its ability to replicate and, hence, inhibits its capability to multiply and reproduce.
The antivirals that have been developed are generally less effective than one would like. Viruses can replicate rapidly and, in many cases sloppily, giving rise to mutations that make them resistant to drugs. And for fast-moving viral infections like flu or a cold, a drug must be very powerful to make a difference before the disease runs its natural course.
Antivirals are medications that keep viruses from reproducing inside the body. To date, relatively few effective antiviral drugs have been developed. It is difficult to create effective antiviral medications because viruses are tiny (smaller than bacteria and fungi) and use a cell’s metabolic pathways to replicate. This makes it more difficult to develop medications that attack the virus without also damaging the host cell.
TYPES OF INFLUENZA
However, some antiviral drugs are known to be effective. There are several types of antiviral drugs used to prevent or treat the various forms of influenza virus. There are three major types of influenza:
- Types A and B. The most severe forms of the virus, they constantly change and different strains circulate around the world every year.
- Type C. Causes either a very mild illness or has no symptoms at all.
ANTIVIRAL PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Four antiviral prescription medications are commercially available to fight influenza viruses in the United States. These drugs are prescribed by a physician and work only against the flu and not other viruses (such as the viruses that cause common colds). The four types of flu antivirals are:
- amantadine (Symmetrel)
- rimantadine (Flumadine)
- oseltamivir (Tamiflu)
- zanamivir (Relenza) etc