NEW ORLEANS - Already 45 children in the U.S. have died from the flu this season. The number of adults is unknown, but is higher than the number needed to qualify as an epidemic.
While the flu vaccine can protect you or help lessen the severity of the flu, prescription medications can shorten how long you are sick. That is why researchers want to pay you to test a new flu medication.
Now I know what you're thinking. You have the flu and you feel absolutely rotten. The last thing you want to do is get out of bed and come for five days and get tested. Well that's why this clinical trial compensates or pays the patients more than the normal clinical trial does - $2,000 if you qualify and complete the study.
Mike Dupuis was surrounded by the flu. Five of his coworkers and all three of his children had it. He tested positive for influenza type A. His doctor encouraged him to join a medical study for a new flu medication and he agreed.
"It was very cold on the Northshore. I think we even had sleet a couple of times. So it was hard to get out of a warm bed being sick," said Dupuis about going to the clinic as a study participant.
Of the 90 different clinic sites throughout the country in this study, Dupuis was the very first person to sign up. He wanted to do his because he has rheumatoid arthritis, and he wants to thank and payback the people who were in studies that tested the drugs that now give him quality of life.
"If people hadn't went through a previous clinical trial with that medicine, I probably wouldn't have been on it now," he said.
For five days, people with flu come in for free tests. Half get the new inhaled medication and half get a placebo or fake inhaler. No one knows who is getting what. The hope is that this new anti-viral drug will be better than what's on the market now.
"It is a substitute for Tamiflu which has become resistant in some areas. The Tamiflu is not as effective as it used to be. This (investigational) medication is a three-day treatment regimen, whereas Tamiflu is five days," explained Dr. Charles Johnson, an investigator at Clinical Trials Management.
Dupuis filled out a diary, took his medication and came in for a week to be checked.
"Four times a day I would have to take my temperature and document my symptoms. By the fourth day, I was really feeling well," remembers Dupuis.
Since one of the flu strains going around is a more deadly one, having new medications that could lower complications, means the potential to one day save lives.
There are clinics in Metairie and Covington doing this study.
They are looking for adults 18 to 70 years old with flu-like symptoms, in the first or second day of getting sick.
You can't have any chronic lung disease and you can't be on any other flu medication such as Tamiflu.
Call Clinical Trials Management 504-455-1310 in Metairie or 985-727-1781 on the NorthShore at the first signs of illness. You will be tested to see if you qualify for the study.