What Is Rimantadine Used For?
It is thought that rimantadine works by inhibiting the uncoating of the flu virus, an important step in the replication (the "reproduction") of the virus. Specifically, rimantadine inhibits the activity of the influenza virus M2 protein, which forms a channel in the virus membrane. As a result, the virus cannot replicate (make copies of itself) after it enters a human cell.
Rimantadine is effective only for some influenza A viruses and is not effective against influenza B viruses. Since the "bird flu" or "avian flu" virus (H5N1) is a type of influenza A, it is possible that rimantadine may work for some strains of this virus. However, many strains of H5N1 influenza are resistant to rimantadine.
For any given year, the predominant flu strain may or may not be susceptible to rimantadine. If the predominant flu strain is not susceptible to rimantadine, this medication should not be used to prevent or treat the flu.
Rimantadine is approved to prevent the flu in children as young as one year of age. It is approved to treat the flu in adolescents age 16 years and older. Because rimantadine is available commercially only in tablet form, your pharmacist may need to make a liquid version out of the tablets for young children.
On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend rimantadine for treating something other than the conditions discussed in this article. This is called an "off-label" use. At this time, there are no universally accepted off-label rimantadine uses.