Safety of bird flu drug Tamiflu in children questioned

Published: Monday, 20-Apr-2009

Pharmaceutical News

A prominent Japanese researcher reporting on the bird flu drug Tamiflu says the drug may not be safe for children.

Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate), is manufactured by drug company Roche – it is an oral anti-viral drug for the treatment of uncomplicated influenza and has been stockpiled by governments around the world as a first line of defence should a bird flu epidemic occur.

It has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. in patients one year and older and adults whose flu symptoms have not lasted more than two days, to treat Type A and B influenza.

Professor Yoshio Hirota from Osaka City University, has just released the final report of a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team which studied the cases of about 10,000 children under 18 who had been diagnosed with influenza since 2006.

The team say flu patients aged between 10 and 17 who took Tamiflu were 54% more likely to exhibit serious abnormal behaviour than those who did not take the antiflu drug and they say Tamiflu appears to increase abnormal psychological behaviour in this group.

The report which will now go to a safety research committee for the Pharmaceutical Affairs and Food Sanitation Council, says the link with Tamiflu cannot be ruled out and calls for more research which focuses on serious abnormal behaviours.
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