Got the flu? A local study might pay you to try antiviral and shorten symptoms


Posted on January 23, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 23 at 7:20 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS - A local doctor says he is seeing more and more hospital beds filling with people who have the flu.

And if you catch it, there may be a way to shorten the symptoms and get paid for being sick.

In a Metairie doctor's office, a lot more people are coming in with respiratory viruses. At least a third have confirmed flu.

"Which is pretty high. I mean this is a very active year. We've had some years where we saw very, very little influenza. And there's a lot of people going to  the emergency room with influenza," said Dr. Robert Jeanfreau, Internal Medicine specialist and President of MedPharmics, a company that runs clinical trials.

Even the nurse practitioner in his office became a patient with the flu.

"Every part of my body ached tremendously, especially in my chest with all the coughing I was doing. The fever was ferocious. I would have these cold sweats and just saturated the bed each night. I was literally unable to get out of bed. I was unable to interact with my children or my family. It was the worst I ever felt in my life," said Paul Blomkalns, a Nurse Practitioner at Jeanfreau and Jeanfreau.

With fever edging toward 103 degrees, Blomkalns got on the antiviral Tamiflu. Doing that, and getting the flu vaccine before he got sick, kept him from becoming even sicker, and maybe even getting complications, landing him in the hospital. Still, he was in bed for four days. 

"I'm a big, big believer in flu vaccination. It is absolutely critical that people get vaccinated against the flu," Dr. Jeanfreau  said.

But now his office is testing a new antiviral drug for the flu.

There is a difference in Tamiflu and the new drug they're testing for the flu. With Tamiflu, you take it two times a day for five days. But with the new drug, you just inhale through your mouth once, then 12 hours later, you inhale it again.

The inhaled medication is free and you will get paid for being in the study. But you have to come within the first 40 hours of getting flu symptoms.

"The fever is critical. You have to have greater than 100.4 degrees," Dr. Jeanfreau said about qualifying for the study. 

It's a chance for you to get well,  get paid and help medical science, instead of paying the medical bill.

To qualify,  you have to be a healthy person 18 to 64 years of age, with the flu. You can't have other medical complications such as heart, lung or kidney disease.

For more information, call MedPharmics at 504-609-2333.