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September 12, 1977

Amantadine for Influenza

JAMA. 1977;238(11):1150. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280120042010

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To the Editor.—  Chanin ("Influenza: Vaccines or Amantadine?" 237:1445, 1977, and "Amantadine for Prophylaxis and Treatment of A-2 Influenza," 236:2050, 1976) champions the use of amantadine hydrochloride as an alternative to influenza immunization. I agree that amantadine has a place in the prophylaxis and treatment of influenza A and have recommended its consideration during the influenza season for elderly and chronically ill persons who failed to receive influenza vaccine and for persons in institutions such as nursing homes when influenza is actually introduced into that setting.Nevertheless, amantadine is no substitute for influenza immunization. It has its own deficiencies, including side reactions as described in the Food and Drug Administration Bulletin (6:30-31, 1976), higher cost, and a 10% to 20% rate of failure to protect. No one knows what long- and short-term side effects would be identified if amantadine were extensively used among children because there have been no important