Marketed for several weeks, the Beyfortus monoclonal antibody, which protects infants from the bronchiolitis virus, is out of stock in the city. A craze unrelated to the expected benefits of this treatment according to Professor Rémy Boussageon, president of the Scientific Council of the National College of Teaching General Practitioners (CNGE).
Beyfortus, developed jointly by the British laboratory AstraZeneca and the French laboratory Sanofi, consists of an injection of a monoclonal antibody to protect infants from the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), responsible for bronchiolitis. It is intended for all babies, under the age of one year, whether they are in good health or more fragile.
A treatment not found in the city
Since this announcement, the treatment has been stormed to the point of quickly being out of stock in pharmacies. “There has been a monstrous media hype, the treatment is a victim of the success of the marketing and promotional campaign that has been carried out, to the point that it is no longer available in the city. Result: general practitioners, who are supposed to administer it, do not do so. denounces Professor Rémy Boussageon, president of the Scientific Council of the National College of General Teachers (CNGE).
A truly effective treatment?
Faced with such enthusiasm for this treatment, the question of its effectiveness arises. After publication of studies carried out by the manufacturing laboratories, Beyfortus was placed on the market. “The tests were carried out and analyzed by manufacturers, so we must exercise caution, we cannot place absolute trust in them.” adds the specialist, recalling that he has “no conflict of interest to report”.
Moreover, it does not call into question the effectiveness of the treatment. “Its effectiveness for premature infants has been demonstrated, for children born at term or without risk factors too, it must be discussed with parents” he adds. “But presenting it as a miracle solution, which will relieve congestion in hospitals, does not make sense when we see that the effectiveness on hospitalizations is not proven in this population.
“It’s not the revolution of the century”
Professor Boussageon’s astonishment seems justified, because moreover, on August 1, the Transparency Commission of the High Authority of Health granted nirsevimab (Beyfortus®) a “moderate” Actual Benefit (SMR) and an Improvement of medical service rendered (ASMR) “minor” in the “therapeutic strategy for the prevention of lower respiratory tract infections due to RSV in newborns and infants with or without risk factors and not eligible for palivizumab, during their first season of RSV circulation“.
According to the doctor, the term “minor” means that the treatment does “practically nothing”.
“But be careful, I am not in a speech for or against Beyfortus, the risk-benefit balance is clearly favorable, the question is rather to question the place and the image given to it” specifies the specialist.
Should you give this treatment to your child?
The real question is therefore whether, as a parent, you should give this treatment to your child. “We must remember the rules of common sense“says the doctor.”Discuss with parents, tell them that bronchiolitis is benign in 95% of cases, that it causes almost no deaths, but that in certain cases, it can still require hospitalization to put the child on oxygen.
The arrival of this treatment should not make us forget other means of preventing bronchiolitis. The doctor thus emphasizes proven measures that work in the prevention and management of bronchiolitis in infants:
- Barrier gestures;
- Symptomatic medications such as Doliprane to reduce fever;
- Clearing the upper airways with physiological serum;
- Pulse oximetry monitoring;
- Splitting meals with sufficient caloric intake.