What is Peramivir?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 December 2019
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Peramivir is an antiviral drug designed to be used in the treatment of influenza. The drug was developed by BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, a drug company based in the United States. The United States government has expressed concerns about the risks of an outbreak of pandemic influenza and the develop of drugs like peramivir is an important priority for agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services, with the goal of having available treatments in place before an outbreak occurs.

This drug is a neuraminidase inhibitor. It acts by blocking an enzyme which is utilized by the influenza virus inside the body, preventing the virus from spreading. It is intended for use in patients who do not respond to other antiviral drugs used in the treatment of flu, or who cannot receive medications via oral and inhaled methods. For example, a patient with severe flu who is experiencing diarrhea and vomiting may not be able to tolerate oral medications.

Patients are given peramivir intravenously. Since most patients with severe flu would be hospitalized for treatment, the somewhat inconvenient method of dosage administration is deemed acceptable, as hospitals have personnel who can administer and supervise intravenous medications. The drug is delivered directly into the bloodstream, where it starts acting very quickly, and is taken over the course of several days to progressively knock the influenza virus out of the patient's body.


Many patients tolerate this drug well, without any side effects. Others experience some nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The drug can also lead to neutropenia, a decline in a patient's white blood cell count. Other neuraminidase inhibitors have a history of causing psychiatric symptoms, skin rashes, and neurological issues. There is some concern that peramivir may do the same, but as of 2010, the drug had not been studied thoroughly enough to determine whether or not these side effects are a risk.

In 2009, fears about a potential flu pandemic led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant peramivir an emergency use authorization. The FDA issued clear guidelines for medical practitioners explaining the circumstances in which the drug could be used and how it could be administered. Because peramivir was still regarded as experimental at this time, a key part of the authorization included obtaining informed consent from patients before administering the drug. BioCryst was also required to continue clinical studies on the drug so that they could apply for a permanent FDA approval for peramivir.



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