Medications

Relenza®   

This product is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline using the ingredient zanamivir.

This product is taken via Diskhaler®.

Why is it prescribed?

Zanamivir is an antiviral medicine for the treatment of influenza and for reducing the chance of getting the flu in community and household settings, in adults and children 7 years of age and older.  It should lessen symptoms and shorten the duration of the flu.  It is important to remember that zanamivir is not a vaccine and that it is sometimes used in people who have had their annual flu shot. 


Relenza® is inhaled (not swallowed) as a powder by using a Diskhaler®. The package insert includes instructions which should be followed closely. However, a demonstration by your pharmacist is the best way to ensure the device is being used properly.

Step 1 - To Load Medicine

  • Pull off the blue cover. 
  • Pull the white tray by the edges until it stops.
  • Find the 4 raised ridges on each side of the white tray.
  • Press in these ridges, both sides at the same time, and pull the whole piece out of the Diskhaler® inhalation device.
  • Drop in disk: Place one disk onto the brown wheel, flat side up. The 4 blisters will drop neatly into the 4 holes in the wheel.
  • Push in the white tray, until it clicks firmly back into place.

Step 2 To Puncture Blister

  • Find the half-circle flap of the Diskhaler device.
  • From this point on-- KEEP THE DISKHALER® inhalation device LEVEL.  (The medicine in the blister is loose powder, so you don’t want it to spill out!)
  • Lift this flap straight up--all the way— so the needle completely pierces the blister.  Should you accidently spill out the powder in the blister proceed to Step 4.
  • Click the flap back down into place.

Step 3 - To inhaler medicine

 

  • Sit down in a comfortable position. Before putting the white mouthpiece into your mouth, breathe all the way out as far as is comfortable (exhale).
  • Now put the white mouthpiece into your mouth and keep the Diskhaler® inhalation device level!
  • Close your lips firmly around the mouthpiece. Do not block the airholes on the side of the mouthpiece.
  • Breathe in through your mouth slowly and as deeply as you can.
  • Hold your breath for 3 seconds or as long as is comfortable to help Relenza® stay in your respiratory tract where it can work. (Your breath will pull the medicine into your respiratory tract.)

 

  • You will feel some powder in your throat. This is normal. The powder may have a sweet taste. It’s O.K. to take a drink of water.

Step 4 - Next Blister

  • To automatically advance to the next blister, just pull the white tray by the edges until it stops. (Don’t remove it.)
  • Then push it back until it clicks.
  • This pull-push motion rotates the disk to the next blister.
  • Now you need to puncture this blister by lifting then closing the flap - See STEP 2.
  • Then you need to inhale it slowly and deeply - See STEP 3.
  • Once you have inhaled 2 blisters, wipe the mouthpiece with a tissue and put the blue cover back on the Diskhaler® inhalation device to keep it clean until your next dose.
  • When all 4 blisters have been used, replace the disk with a fresh one - See STEP 1.

Store at room temperature in a dry place.

If you use a bronchodilator and the Relenza® dose is scheduled for the same time, then the bronchodilator should be used first.
There is a risk of bronchospasm associated with the use of Relenza® in people with asthma or COPD and therefore rescue medication should be available. If you experience worsening of respiratory symptoms, you should discontinue Relenza® and contact your doctor.

 


Alternatives

See other products used in the treatment of •flu •influenza •

Treatment of Influenza: The usual dose for adults and children 7 years and older is to inhale 2 blisters (one 5 mg blister per inhalation for a total single dose of 10 mg) via diskhaler twice daily for 5 days.

Prevention of Influenza in a household setting: The usual dose for adults and children 7 years and older is - 10 mg ( 2 inhalations) once daily for 10 days starting no more than 1.5 days after the first onset of signs or symptoms.

Prevention of influenza in a community outbreak: The usual dose for adults and children 7 years and older is - 10 mg ( 2 inhalations) once daily for 28 days starting no more than 5 days after the outbreak was identified in the community.


Zanamivir is an antiviral medication that stops the spread of the influenza virus to healthy cells in your respiratory tract.


Along with its needed effects, zanamivir may cause some unwanted or undesirable effects. Generally, zanamivir is well tolerated and many people will not experience unwanted effects.
Possible unwanted effects include:

  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • nausea and vomiting
  • irritation of the nose
  • cough
  • breathing problems (e.g. bronchospasm) has occurred in patients with asthma or COPD

Zanamivir is generally not recommended for treatment in people with severe lung disease due to the risk of side effects.

Drug Interactions: It is unlikely that zanamivir will interact with any other medications you are taking. However, it is important that you inform your doctor and pharmacist of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications that you are taking.

Use is not recommended in the following situations:

  • allergy to zanamivir or any component of the inhalation powder (including lactose)
  • children under 7 years of age

Caution is recommended in the following situations:

  • people with chronic respiratory disease

Use in pregnancy: Not recommended for use during pregnancy.  Be sure to inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are or suspect you may be pregnant.
Use while breastfeeding: It is not known whether zanamivir passes into the breast milk. Your doctor or pharmacist will advise you on what is best for you and your baby.

 


Page Last Updated: 05/10/2016