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Risk from swine flu drugs outweigh benefits in children

Researchers have warned children should not be given the swine flu anti-viral drug Tamiflu because its harms outweigh any benefits.

According to Dr Carl Henegan, a GP and expert from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, the current Department of Health policy of giving oseltamivir, brand name Tamiflu, for mild illness is an ‘inappropriate strategy’.

He said the decision to use Tamiflu should be rethought urgently because it can cause vomiting in some children, leading to dehydration and complications.

The study also found that when used for asthma flare-ups, ear infections or the likelihood of a child needing antibiotics the drug had little or no effect.

Dr Carl Henegan said: ‘The downside of the harms outweigh the one-day reduction in symptomatic benefits.’

The latest warning comes after previous research found that children given Tamiflu preventatively reported side-effects including nausea and nightmares.

The authors, led by Dr Matthew Thompson from the University of Oxford, said that the effectiveness of using antivirals to contain the spread of flu was minimal, with 13 people needing to be treated to prevent one additional case. Therefore antivirals reduce transmission by just 8%.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I would be interested to know the incidence of nightmares in children with flu-like illness, who are not taking oseltamivir. My 3 1/2 year old asthmatic daughter was frequently disturbed by nightmares after having flu symptoms for 2 days. She had been prescribed Tamiflu but I didn't administer it as she was coping well with the illness. She's made a full recovery.
    My 11 month old was given Tamiflu after being hospitalised with a chest infection the following week. She projectile vomited an hour after the first dose was given. It was stopped and again, she has recovered well.

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