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September 1996

Ribavirin for Respiratory Syncytial Virus Lower Respiratory Tract InfectionA Systematic Overview

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Critical Care, Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco (Dr Randolph); and the Clinical Epidemiology Unit, The Hospital for Sick Children, Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research Program and Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto, Ontario (Dr Wang).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150(9):942-947. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1996.02170340056011

Objective:  To systematically review the evidence evaluating the efficacy of aerosolized ribavirin for the treatment of infants with respiratory syncytial virus lower respiratory tract infection.

Design:  A computerized search of MEDLINE from 1975 to the present, a review of the reference lists of each retrieved article, and contact with experts.

Patients:  Infants with documented respiratory syncytial virus lower respiratory tract infection who were the subjects of 8 double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trials.

Methods:  Two independent reviewers assessed study quality and extracted data on the study populations, the drug regimens, and clinically relevant outcome measurements.

Results:  Ribavirin does not significantly reduce mortality rate (relative risk [RR]=0.42,95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.13,1.44) or lower the probability of respiratory deterioration (RR=0.42,95% CI=0.16,1.34) when meta-analysis is used to pool the outcomes of 3 trials, although strong trends in the direction of benefit are present. No study found ribavirin to shorten length of hospitalization. Results on length of ventilation and oxygen supplementation are conflicting.

Conclusions:  Use of ribavirin in infants with respiratory syncytial virus lower respiratory tract infection is not supported by evidence of significant benefit. However, previous studies lack sufficient power to rule out a potential reduction in mortality rate or respiratory deterioration. A large randomized controlled trial of ribavirin for ventilated and other high-risk patients is needed.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150:942-947

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