Can You Drink Alcohol With Tamiflu?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not it is safe to drink alcohol while taking Tamiflu.

Question

Does alcohol have adverse effect on tamiflu

Asked by Dennis On Mar 24, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Mar 27, 2018

There is no interaction between Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and alcohol. However, taking alcohol while recovering from a sickness like the flu is generally not recommended. Alcohol can decrease immune function and worsen side effects of Tamiflu like headache, nausea, and vomiting. While recovering from an infection, it is important to stay well hydrated and get plenty of rest.


Information About Tamiflu

Tamiflu is an antiviral that helps to treat seasonal influenza virus A or B (common flu). The important thing to note about Tamiflu is that it must be initiated as soon as possible once symptoms begin. The first 48 hours are the most critical time to make sure that Tamiflu is started. After 48 hours, the effect is much less, but can sometimes still be used in complicated cases.


Tamiflu has been shown to reduce the duration of flu-like symptoms by about 24-32 hours assuming it is started early enough. Common side effects of Tamiflu include headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Because of the severe flu season this year, there have been reported shortages of Tamiflu in the community. This has especially affected the supply of liquid Tamiflu, commonly used for children. Many patients have had to call several pharmacies to ensure they have supply. Tamiflu suspension can be compounded by using the capsules in emergent situations, but is not recommended if the commercial product is available.


Information About Alcohol

Alcohol is primarily metabolized via alcohol dehydrogenase, aldehyde dehydrogenase, cytochrome P450 (CYP2E1), and catalase. The byproducts of alcohol include acetaldehyde and acetate and contribute to many of the negative effects. Genetic variation of these enzymes causes varying degrees of alcohol metabolism—which is why everyone tolerates alcohol differently.


Alcohol metabolism takes place mostly in the liver. CYP enzymes play a particularly important role in drug metabolism and drug interactions occur via the inhibition or induction of these enzymes. Alcohol does impact CYP enzymes, especially CYP2E1. Tamiflu does not rely on CYP enzymes for metabolism.


Summary

All in all, it is generally not recommended to drink alcohol while recovering from an infection such as the flu. Because Tamiflu is not metabolized by any CYP enzymes, alcohol does not directly interact with Tamiflu, but could worsen side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and headache. 

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Kevin Davis Pharm.D

Dr. Kevin Davis is a licensed pharmacist with experience in retail and hospital pharmacy. He graduated from the University of Florida with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2015 and a Master of Healthcare Administration degree from Adventist University in 2017. He is also a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist since 2016.

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