Interferons: Placebo or Medicine?
In 2019, according to the Public Opinion Foundation, only 57% of Russians trust doctors. I must say that this trend has been observed for a long time, and it is associated with several factors:
- The current problems of domestic health care: queues, the difficulty of getting an appointment promptly, especially when it comes to a narrow specialist, as well as the short time allotted for a patient's appointment, of course, do not add to citizens' desire to visit medical institutions.
- Active "inclusion" of the population in the Internet community. Availability and convenience of online services, including medical topics.
Therefore, more and more often, a sick person, instead of visiting a doctor, a qualified specialist, follows a deceptively easy path - he types a diagnosis or a drug in a search box on the Internet and makes a decision on his own. And the media, on the other hand, use sensitive health topics as a way to boost the ratings of their TV programs and websites.
Do you remember any "information" waves on the topic of medicine? Let us recall some of them: "There is no need to vaccinate", "It is not required to treat influenza and ARVI before the onset of acute symptoms", "Interferons do not cure." In this article we will touch on the last topic from this, far from complete, list.
- Interferon wars
- Interferon. Approved by WHO
- What the facts say
- What happens if you do not treat?
- Effects of using interferons
Treatment of ARVI and influenza in children and pregnant women
- Rules for choosing a medicine
- We look at the research data, pay attention to the effects of application
Some time ago, the topic of interferons was actively discussed on TV and in other media. The structure of the campaign was very reminiscent of the hype topic with measles vaccinations that took place more than 2 years ago, as a result of which many Russian women have now refused to give these vaccines to their children. The ideology of the anti-vaccination wave was the same: in the West, they don't. No benefit. What do we see as the result?
- The incidence of measles in 2018 increased by 3.5 times compared to 2017! According to the national scientific and methodological center for the surveillance of measles and rubella of the Russian Federation.
- Regarding the "positive" Western experience: last year in Europe, more than 41 thousand people were infected, and 32 people died. Deaths from measles have been reported periodically in Romania, Italy, Greece, France and Portugal. Europe has not seen such a number of measles cases for 20 years, the World Health Organization claims.
Now let's move on to interferon preparations, which have become the next active topic of information wars. Would failure to apply them lead to similar results? Increased morbidity, including SARS and influenza? Let's figure it out.
Interferon. Approved by WHO
Interferon was discovered in 1958, that is, more than 60 years ago, in London. Already 5 years after its opening, it was included in the WHO (World Health Organization) list of medicines. The WHO has defined interferon as "a protein that can prevent infection of healthy / uninfected cells." In the international classification of medicines, interferon alfa-2b, which is used in most preparations based on interferon ("ferons"), is assigned the code L03AB05.
After that, is it worth saying that drugs based on interferon are not recognized abroad? Agree, hardly.
World health organization
Regarding the experience of use in the West, let's look at open sources: for example, in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine in 2001, a study was published that confirmed that antiviral IFNs can be used in the treatment of asthma caused by virus 1. China - studies of the use of interferon for papillomavirus infection (Efficacy and safety of combined high-dose interferon and red light therapy for the treatment of human papillomavirus and associated vaginitis and cervicitis, Medicine, 2018, China). We will not lengthen the list, we will only note that it includes Great Britain, Japan, America and European countries.
1 EK Miller, Z. Hernandez, V. Wimmenauer, BE Shepherd [et al.] /// A mechanistic role for type IIIIFN-X1 in asthma exacerbations mediated by human rhinoviruses // Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. - 2012. - Vol. 185. - No. 5. - P. 508-516.
What the facts say
Russia has no less experience in the study and use of interferons. Here our scientists have something to be proud of. Almost simultaneously with the West, the USSR began to work on the possibility of using the unique features of this protein to treat people. The key role in this was played by the V. Gamalei, where, under the leadership of the scientist virologist and immunologist academician V. D. Solovyov, a special laboratory was created to study it.
The work of Russian scientists on the creation of drugs based on interferon in 2001 and 2012 was awarded the prize of the Russian government "For achievements in the field of science and technology."
What happens if you do not treat?
According to statistics, there are one billion cases of influenza every year, of which three to five million are severe. Also, from 290 thousand to 650 thousand deaths associated with this disease are recorded. The first risk group includes children, pregnant women and the elderly. Not all antiviral drugs are approved for use in children, especially in infancy. Some interferon preparations are fortunately the exception to this rule. Not all companies are ready to invest in research and spend many years to obtain certification, since drugs for this group of patients are tested especially carefully.
The lack of timely treatment and the expectation of parents, while the temperature is at around 38 for several days, will subside by itself - the shortest path to complications and severe disease.
Is it possible not to treat the flu and SARS? ARVI is possible if the person is absolutely healthy. But not treating the flu is extremely dangerous. Well, let's suppose that you decided without diagnostics: that the child has ARVI and switched on the “let the body cope on its own” scheme. Do you know how many healthy children there are in Russia according to Rosstat? Not more than 11%! Is it worth experimenting with the health of your own child and denying him treatment, thereby increasing the likelihood of complications and a severe course of the disease? Should I ignore the recommendations of doctors on taking antiviral drugs in the early stages of the disease?
Effects of using interferons
Have you come across in blogs that interferons are "fuflomycins", they do not cure? Please note that, as a rule, such discussions are built on emotions and are published with the aim of developing hype and increasing the number of subscribers. In such cases, it is worth turning to the facts. You can also search for data on the Internet. But not on blogs, but on official sites.
For example, the website of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, section "Treatment standards":
The Russian Ministry of Health has included interferon in suppositories in more than 30 standards of medical care for the treatment of various infectious diseases.
Or look at the list of Vital and Essential Medicines (VED) approved annually by the government of the Russian Federation. It includes those medicines, the availability of which is mandatory in pharmacies, they must be in daily access for the treatment of the population. This has included interferon alpha preparations for many years. Including Grippferon, Infagel, as well as Viferon, on the example of which we will consider the evidence base for efficacy and safety.
Let's turn to the data from clinical studies. For example, according to the manufacturer Viferon, in the period from 1996 to the present, more than 64 thousand patients took part in the studies on the drug, among which 10.5 thousand are pregnant women, 38 thousand are children, including newborns. In total, 14 large-scale clinical studies have been conducted on the drug, including double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, confirming its effectiveness and safety in the treatment of various diseases.
Is it worth trusting the emotions of HYIP bloggers and not taking numbers and facts into account? It is, of course, the consumer who decides.
Treatment of ARVI and influenza in children and pregnant women
Here are some more facts about ARVI. Respiratory infections (ARVI) are the most common infectious diseases in children. According to the WHO, children, the elderly and pregnant women are at risk. They are more likely to develop severe forms of the disease and complications occur. “Cases of hospitalization and death occur mainly in high-risk groups. It is estimated that annual influenza epidemics cause 3-5 million cases of severe illness and 290,000 to 650,000 deaths from respiratory diseases.”
Do you know what drugs are approved for the treatment of ARVI and influenza from 0 years old? And for pregnant women in the early stages? There are not many such drugs. Part of the drugs doctors use at their own peril and risk outside the instructions, according to vital indications, in order to alleviate the suffering of a sick child. But there are also proven drugs, there are few of them, but they are available in Russia. And some have been used for many years in the treatment of these categories of patients. The same Viferon. Let's look at the registration certificate - it's 1996. That is, it has been used in medicine for over 20 years.
Rules for choosing a medicine
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that not all drugs are suitable for treating patients who are at high risk. And there are very few such suitable drugs. However, doctors often deviate from the list of safe drugs at their own risk and prescribe others outside the instructions to alleviate the suffering of a sick child.
To understand that the doctor is prescribing the correct and safe drug for you, it is worth paying attention to how long it has been used to treat this category of patients. For example, during ARVI, children are often prescribed Viferon.
We look at the research data, pay attention to the effects of application
Let's look at the articles in open sources, which describe the use of ARVI. As a result of a study published in the article "Viferon in the treatment of influenza and other acute respiratory viral and viral-bacterial etiology in children", it was found that its use in acute respiratory viral infections made it possible to reduce the duration of the disease by 2 days, reduce the number of complications and the duration of symptoms of the disease, shorten the period the release of viral particles, which led to a decrease in the risk of disease, in those who surround the patient. For example, parents.
We look further - pregnant women. In another article, "The clinical effect of using various dosage forms of Viferon in pregnant women with acute respiratory infection," it is said that the use of the drug helped: stop the symptoms of acute respiratory viral infections and influenza by the end of the third day, reduce the likelihood of bacterial complications by 16.7%, contributed to an easier clinical the course of the disease in pregnant women for a period of 14 to 26 weeks.
Or, about the transmission of infection from mother to fetus: the results of a study published in the article "The use of Viferon in the complex treatment of urogenital infections in pregnant women in order to prevent intrauterine infections in newborns" show that the use of the drug Viferon contributes to the fact that 2 times more children are born healthy, fewer children have intrauterine growth retardation; severe forms of intrauterine infection are 1.7 times less common.
So, how to distinguish reliable information from a hype topic? Do not be lazy to look for it yourself in open sources, in medical journals or on the manufacturer's website.
- it sets out the facts with reference to the source;
- it contains a detailed explanation and justification of the statement;
- it comes from medical specialists, doctors of the specialty that corresponds to the topic of discussion.
As a result of our research, as well as the collection of data from open sources, we see that drugs containing interferon (analysis was based on the example of studies of the drug Viferon) are safe for the treatment of various diseases in children and adults. Their effectiveness is confirmed by clinical studies, they are included in treatment standards and lists of essential drugs.
We made sure that the denial of the evidence of interferons is one of the new informational hype topics that does not have any factual basis. Be careful, only trust proven facts, not emotional posts. After all, you are responsible not only for your health, but also for the health of your children. We hope our material was useful to you.