Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Do the omeprazole family compounds exert a protective effect against influenza-like illness?

Roberto Gasparini12*, Piero Luigi Lai12, Francesca Casabona1, Cecilia Trucchi1, Sara Boccalini3, Maria Luisa Cristina1, Stefania Rossi24, Daniela Amicizia12 and Donatella Panatto12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Sciences, Genoa University, Genoa, Italy

2 Inter-University Centre for Research on Influenza and other Transmitted Infections (CIRI-IT), Genoa, Italy

3 Department of Health Sciences, Florence University, Firenze, Italy

4 Department of Molecular and Developmental Medicine, Siena University, Siena, Italy

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:297  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-297

Published: 2 June 2014



Infections by influenza viruses place a heavy burden on public health and economies worldwide. Although vaccines are the best weapons against influenza, antiviral drugs could offer an opportunity to alleviate the burden of influenza. Since omeprazole family compounds block the “proton pump”, we hypothesized that they could interfere with the mechanism of fusion of the virus envelope and endosomal membrane, thereby hindering the M2 proton pump mechanism of influenza viruses.


A matched case-control study was performed in 2010-2011 in Italy. Cases were subjects aged over 18 years with a diagnosis of Influenza-like Illness (ILI); 254 case-control pairs were recruited. A multivariable conditional logistic regression analysis was used to assess the association between the prevention of ILI and the administration of omeprazole family compounds. The interaction between omeprazole family compounds and influenza vaccination was also examined.


After control for potential confounders, subjects treated with omeprazole family compounds displayed a lower risk of catching ILI (ORadj = 0.29, 95% CI: 0.15-0.52). The risk of ILI in unvaccinated non-OFC users was about six times than that in vaccinated OFC users.


Although confirmation is necessary, these results suggest that omeprazole family compounds could be profitably used in the prevention of ILI.

Influenza-like illness (ILI); Omeprazole family compounds; Epidemiology; Prevention