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Times, July 31, 2009
Tamiflu Causes Sickness and Nightmares in Children, Study Finds
Children report a range of side-effects, but the official advice is that Tamiflu is safe More than half of children taking the swine flu drug Tamiflu experience side-effects such as nausea and nightmares, research suggests. An estimated 150,000 people with flu symptoms were prescribed the drug through a new hotline and website last week, according to figures revealed yesterday. Studies of children attending three schools in London and one in the South West showed that 51-53 per cent had one or more side-effects from the medication, which is offered to everyone in England with swine flu symptoms. The research by the Health Protection Agency emerged as Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer for England, said that swine flu infections “may have reached a plateau”.
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Releasing the latest figures, Sir Liam said that an estimated 110,000 new cases of the H1N1 virus were diagnosed by doctors in the week to Sunday. That did not include those using the new National Pandemic Flu Service for England to obtain antiviral drugs without seeing their GP. Sir Liam said that the deaths of 27 people in England were confirmed to have been linked to swine flu, compared with 26 last week. As of Wednesday morning 793 people were in hospital in England with the virus, and 81 were in intensive care. Yesterday Natasha Newman, 16, of Highgate, North London, was seriously ill in hospital in Athens after contracting swine flu while on holiday on the island of Cephalonia. Her parents, Julian Newman and Nikki Boughton, were at her bedside at the Agia Sofia children’s hospital, said a spokeswoman for Mr Newman’s business, J. Newman Textiles. “This is a very distressing and worrying time,” she said. Peter Holden, the British Medical Association’s lead expert on swine flu, suggested that Tamiflu was being overused and did not need to be offered to everyone with mild symptoms. “The National Pandemic Flu Service has been a great success, and was needed to take the pressure off GPs,” he said. “But the threshold for getting Tamiflu should be quite high. “For patients who are not in the high-risk groups — such as pregnant women, people with bad asthma or with suppressed immune systems — this virus typically causes mild symptoms and does not require a course of Tamiflu. Patients in the at-risk groups should be referred to their GP, who will use their clinical judgment.” A total of 103 children took part in the London study, of which 85 were given the drug as a precaution after a classmate received a diagnosis of swine flu. Of those, 45 experienced one or more side-effects. The most common was nausea (29 per cent), followed by stomach pain or cramps (20 per cent) and problems sleeping (12 per cent). Almost one in five had a “neuropsychiatric side-effect”, such as inability to think clearly, nightmares and “behaving strangely”, according to the research, published in Eurosurveillance, a journal of disease. The study was carried out in April and May when the drug was being issued as a preventive measure. The findings were echoed by a study of children at a school in the South West where a pupil had caught the disease in Mexico. Health officials in Japan have recommended against prescribing Tamiflu to teenagers over fears it causes a rise in “neuropsychiatric events”. The researchers said that clinical trials had shown that about 20 per cent of adults reported side-effects of either nausea or vomiting after taking Tamiflu. Both the Department of Health and the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory products Agency said that the drug was safe, and that the benefits of treating early symptoms and avoiding potentially serious complications could outweigh the risks of side-effects. Sir Liam said that despite a 10 per cent rise in the estimated number of cases in the week to Sunday, the latest figures reinforced “a growing impression we have had a peak”. He said that
a surge would still be expected in the winter flu season, but added: “I think we are a little more confident we may be seeing a downturn in this flu.” Scale of the outbreak — 110,000 new swine flu cases in England last week, based on data from GPs — 150,000 people obtaining Tamiflu without seeing a GP since last Thursday — 51% to 53% proportion of children reporting side-effects from taking Tamiflu — 1 in 158 people in England have contacted their GP with flu-like symptoms since outbreaks began. The rate is 1 in 77 for children aged 1 to 4 Source: Department of Health
26 Comments (Displaying 1-10) Order By:
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Newest first Oldest first Most recommended m ford wrote: the very thin end of a massive wedge. I hear that Greece has just approved plans to vaccinate their whole population,with no exceptions. google 'Jane Burgermeister' and read what's going on, then head for the hills. July 31, 2009 6:22 PM BST on UK-TimesOnline Recommend? Report Abuse Permalink
Rick Pritchard wrote: When are people gonna wake up and listen. I suppose when the mainstream media actually tells abit of truth, like in this acticle. But it shouldn't need that. If it needs that to wake you up then you need to sort your head out. I was banging on about Tamiflu weeks ago. Loads of us were. Its used mostly in Japan where 12 children died as a result. People stop worrying about abit of flu and if you still think you want to take the vaccine then think again please, before it's too late for you and your family. Watch the 60 minutes program on the 1976 swine flu outbreak. You'll be glad you did.
July 31, 2009 5:58 PM BST on UK-TimesOnline Recommend? Report Abuse Permalink
Jake Blair wrote: Everyone should know Tamiflu HASN't been subject to full EU or FDA clinical trials. (Very worrying). Look up the 1976 Swine Flu. Vaccines are the snakeoil of medicine. Its all propoganda anyway. Got enough on my mind with money/jobsn /politics. July 31, 2009 5:50 PM BST on UK-TimesOnline Recommend? Report Abuse Permalink
Helen Williamson wrote: Martien - try telling that to the 1000s of Worried Well walking the streets of Britain, terrified they're going to catch a sniffle! The sooner people realise the effects of Swine flu are the same as normal flu for the majority of people, the better. Seems Tamiflu can be more hassle than it's worth... July 31, 2009 11:58 AM BST on UK-TimesOnline Recommend? (11) Report Abuse Permalink
Ian Tinn wrote: Just a thought - are children receiving the adult dose of Tamiflu? Could that be the problem? July 31, 2009 11:00 AM BST on UK-TimesOnline Recommend? (2) Report Abuse Permalink
Alan Noorkoiv wrote: I suspect the nightmares are psychological due to Government and Parental Paranoia, and the Nausea is to be expected when you chose to fill your body with a
cocktail of chemicals; perhaps even unessesarily?... July 31, 2009 10:58 AM BST on UK-TimesOnline Recommend? (11) Report Abuse Permalink
marcus toomster wrote: What next? Tamiflu can cause headaches and tiredness? I cant wait for the next instalment of this riveting story. July 31, 2009 10:46 AM BST on UK-TimesOnline Recommend? (8) Report Abuse Permalink
Ian Tinn wrote: Martien, your doctors are right. I have been saying the same since the UK panic started. Even worse, viruses can pass immunity from one to another. Tamiflu could become completely useless in around a year's time. July 31, 2009 10:27 AM BST on UK-TimesOnline Recommend? (8) Report Abuse Permalink
Ron Graves wrote: Far worse than nightmares, according to the NICE guide TA158, Tamiflu can cause bronchitis. In conjunction with flu, the guide says, bronchitis can be fatal. This does not strike me as wildly helpful. AS I have severe COPD, my risk of dying if I catch the flu is pretty high, and it seems that taking Tamiflu may be just the thing to tip me over the edge. I think I'll pass, and do what I normally do when I have flu - load my system with antibiotics to stave off secondary bacterial infections. My priority, though, is to take all possible steps to avoid flu. By the way, there is another NICE report, pre-dating TA158, saying that in an epidemic, Tamiflu needs to be taken for six weeks. The 7-10 day courses being
doled out during the pandemic, then, look rather inadequate. July 31, 2009 10:09 AM BST on UK-TimesOnline Recommend? (11) Report Abuse Permalink
Martien Roose wrote: 150,000 people obtaining Tamiflu without seeing a GP since last Thursday ? I'm living in Belgium; scientists and doctors here are warning us that the more Tamiflu is taken the quicker the virus will become resistent. July 31, 2009 9:51 AM BST on UK-TimesOnline Recommend? (16)