Abstract Title:

The effect on mortality of antipyretics in the treatment of influenza infection: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Abstract Source:

J R Soc Med. 2010 Oct;103(10):403-11. PMID: 20929891

Abstract Author(s):

Sally Eyers, Mark Weatherall, Philippa Shirtcliffe, Kyle Perrin, Richard Beasley

Article Affiliation:

Medical Research Institute of New Zealand Private Bag 7902, Wellington 6242, New Zealand.


OBJECTIVE: To determine whether antipyretic treatment for influenza infection influences the risk of mortality in animal models and humans.

DESIGN: A systematic search of Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials was undertaken to identify randomized placebo-controlled trials of antipyretic use in influenza infection in animal models or humans that reported mortality. A quantitative meta-analysis of the risk of death using Peto's one step odds ratio with calculation of the pooled risk of death and standard evaluation of heterogeneity was undertaken.

SETTING: Not applicable.

PARTICIPANTS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Risk of mortality associated with antipyretic use in influenza infection.

RESULTS: Eight studies from three publications met the inclusion criteria. No human studies were identified. The risk of mortality was increased by antipyretic use in influenza-infected animals with a fixed effects pooled odds ratio of 1.34 (95% CI 1.04-1.73). An increased risk was observed with aspirin, paracetamol and diclofenac.

CONCLUSION: In animal models, treatment with antipyretics for influenza infection increases the risk of mortality. There are no randomized placebo-controlled trials of antipyretic use in influenza infection in humans that reported data on mortality and a paucity of clinical data by which to assess their efficacy. We suggest that randomized placebo-controlled trials of antipyretic use in human influenza infection are urgently required, and that these are sufficiently powered to investigate a potential effect on mortality.

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