BMC Infect Dis. 2021 Oct 27;21(1):1106. doi: 10.1186/s12879-021-06812-2.
BACKGROUND: Influenza is associated with excess morbidity and mortality of individuals each year. Few therapies exist for treatment of influenza infection, and each require initiation as early as possible in the course of infection, making efficacy difficult to estimate in the hospitalized patient with lower respiratory tract infection. Using causal machine learning methods, we re-analyze data from a randomized trial of oseltamivir versus standard of care aimed at reducing clinical failure in hospitalized patients with lower respiratory tract infection during the influenza season.
METHODS: This was a secondary analysis of the Rapid Empiric Treatment with Oseltamivir Study (RETOS). Conditional average treatment effects (CATE) and 95% confidence intervals were computed from causal forest including 85 clinical and demographic variables. RETOS was a multicenter, randomized, unblinded, trial of adult patients hospitalized with lower respiratory tract infections in Kentucky from 2009 through 2012. Adult hospitalized patients with lower respiratory tract infection were randomized to standard of care or standard of care plus oseltamivir as early as possible after hospital admission but within 24 h of enrollment. After randomization, oseltamivir was initiated in the treatment arm per package insert. The primary outcome was clinical failure, a composite measure including failure to reach clinical improvement within 7 days, transfer to intensive care 24 h after admission, or rehospitalization or death within 30 days.
RESULTS: A total of 691 hospitalized patients with lower respiratory tract infections were included in the study. The only subgroup of patients with a statistically significant CATE was those with laboratory-confirmed influenza infection with a 26% lower risk of clinical failure when treated with oseltamivir (95% CI 3.2-48.0%).
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that addition of oseltamivir to standard of care may decrease clinical failure in hospitalized patients with influenza-associated lower respiratory tract infection versus standard of care alone. These results are supportive of current recommendations to initiate antiviral treatment in hospitalized patients with confirmed or suspected influenza as soon as possible after admission. Trial registration Original trial: Clinical Trials.Gov; Rapid Empiric Treatment With Oseltamivir Study (RETOS) (RETOS); ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01248715 https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01248715.