Zanamivir is used in adults and children at least 7 years of age to treat some types of influenza ('flu') in people who have had symptoms of the flu for less than 2 days. This medication is also used to prevent some types of flu in adults and children at least 5 years of age when they have spent time with someone who has the flu or when there is a flu outbreak. Zanamivir is in a class of medications called neuraminidase inhibitors. It works by stopping the growth and spread of the flu virus in your body. Zanamivir helps shorten the time you have flu symptoms such as nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, muscle aches, tiredness, weakness, headache, fever, and chills.
Zanamivir comes as a powder to inhale (breathe in) by mouth. To treat influenza, it is usually inhaled twice daily for 5 days. You should inhale the doses about 12 hours apart and at the same times each day. However, on the first day of treatment, your doctor may tell you to inhale the doses closer together. To help prevent the spread of influenza in people living in the same household, zanamivir is usually inhaled once a day for 10 days. To help prevent the spread of influenza in a community, zanamivir is usually inhaled once a day for 28 days. When using zanamivir to prevent influenza, it should be inhaled at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use zanamivir exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Zanamivir comes with a plastic inhaler called a Diskhaler (device for inhaling powder) and five Rotadisks (circular foil blister packs each containing four blisters of medication). Zanamivir powder can only be inhaled using the Diskhaler provided. Do not remove the powder from the packaging, mix it with any liquid, or inhale it with any other inhalation device. Do not put a hole in or open any medication blister pack until inhaling a dose with the Diskhaler.
Carefully read the manufacturer's instructions that describe how to prepare and inhale a dose of zanamivir using the Diskhaler. Be sure to ask your pharmacist or doctor if you have any questions about how to prepare or inhale this medication.
If you use an inhaled medication to treat asthma, emphysema, or other breathing problems and you are scheduled to use that medication at the same time as zanamivir, you should use your regular inhaled medication before using zanamivir.
The use of the inhaler by a child should be supervised by an adult who understands how to use zanamivir and has been instructed in its use by a healthcare provider.
Continue to take zanamivir even if you start to feel better. Do not stop taking zanamivir without talking to your doctor.
If you feel worse or develop new symptoms during or after treatment, or if your flu symptoms do not start to get better, call your doctor.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer's information for the patient.
Zanamivir may be used to treat and prevent infections from influenza A (H1N1).
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before using zanamivir,
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
If you forget to inhale a dose, inhale it as soon as you remember it. If it is 2 hours or less until the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not inhale a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you miss several doses, call your doctor to find out what to do.
Zanamivir may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
If you experience any of the following symptoms, or those mentioned in the SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS section, call your doctor immediately:
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( Web Site) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
Keep this medication in the container it came in and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. Web Site
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( Web Site) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at Web Site. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
You should maintain proper hygiene, wash your hands frequently, and avoid situations such as sharing cups and utensils that can spread the influenza virus to others.
The Diskhaler should only be used for zanamivir. Do not use the Diskhaler to take other medications that you inhale.
Do not let anyone else use your medication. Your prescription is probably not refillable.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.