Amantadine hydrochloride and rimantadine hydrochloride are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for prophylaxis of influenza A. While data suggest that rimantadine is better tolerated, there are no data examining the rate of adverse reactions in elderly patients who receive amantadine vs rimantadine. Our objective was to assess the adverse reaction rate in elderly nursing home patients receiving sequential amantadine and rimantadine for influenza A prophylaxis.
Data were collected in 156 nursing home patients (70% women; mean±SD age, 83.7±10.1 years) in a single care setting who received sequential therapy with amantadine and rimantadine during the 1997-1998 influenza season. Patients were assessed for central nervous system adverse effects and therapy discontinuation occurring with each agent.
Twenty-nine (18.6%) of the 156 patients experienced an adverse effect when receiving amantadine compared with 3 patients (1.9%) when rimantadine was given (P<.01). Drug use was discontinued due to adverse events in 17.3% (n=27) of the amantadine courses and 1.9% (n=3) of the rimantadine courses (P<.001). Confusion was the most frequently observed adverse event (amantadine, 10.6%; rimantadine, 0.6%; P<.001). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that significant risk factors for central nervous system adverse events included male sex (odds ratio, 3.65), reduced calculated creatinine clearance (odds ratio, 1.78), and use of amantadine (odds ratio, 12.73).
Amantadine use was associated with a significantly higher incidence of central nervous system adverse events than rimantadine use in this elderly population receiving influenza prophylaxis. In addition, the discontinuation rate of amantadine was significantly higher than that with rimantadine.