Brave Oxford Researchers Say Tamiflu is Not for Kids

Saturday, August 15, 2009
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Governments in the United States and Great Britain plan to use antiviral drugs as a first line of defense against the Swine Flu (along with experimental vaccines as they become available), especially in at risk groups such as young children.  A new study by Oxford researchers published in the British Medical Journal questions the wisdom of this advice and points out that the risks are likely to outweigh the very slight benefits.  (See full study and related commentary1).  It is worth noting that this is a conflict between government unelected bureaucrats in charge of “herd control” and doctors trying to evaluate the best interests of patients.  Unfortunately, public health is never in the best interest of any one patient, and expects collateral damage.  And what if that collateral damage is your child?

A systematic review and meta-analysis on the use of anti-viral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, on children under 12 was conducted to determine their safety and effectiveness in treating children with flu and in the ability of these drugs to prevent children from getting the flu. 

The drugs were found to reduce the duration of the flu by a day, yet not to reduce the complications of the flu such as fewer asthma problems in children with existing asthma or the need to use antibiotics to treat secondary ear infections arising as part of the flu illness process.  This data alone suggests any benefits are very weak and offer far less protection than basic nutrients that have no adverse effects such as vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and acidophilus.

In the preventive sense, a full level treatment dose needs to be given to 13 children simply to prevent one case of the flu – again a very weak result.

On the other hand, 1 in 20 children develop nausea and vomiting from these drugs, which not only could be mistaken for flu symptoms but can cause life-threatening dehydration in any child who gets the flu as well.  For such little benefit, public health officials are willing to expose millions of children to potentially serious and life-threatening medical “prevention” treatment. 

Part of the reason for the use of Tamiflu is that massive government stockpiles of these drugs that occurred in preparation for the bird flu that never came are about to expire.  During 2006 the U.S. government received at various points in the year 20 million doses of Tamiflu at a cost of 2 billion dollars. The product has a three year shelf life, though I would wonder a little bit about how good it is that close to expiration.

Regardless, Tamiflu will only work, if it works at all, on the first wave of individuals taking it.  After that, the Swine flu will mutate around it.  This resistance to Tamiflu or other anti-viral drugs will occur relatively quickly.

It should be pointed out that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added a warning label to Tamiflu back in November of 2006, based on numerous reports of delirium and suicide mostly in children under 17.  Side effects occurred within 24-48 hours of taking the drug and included panic attacks, delusions, delirium, convulsions, depression, loss of consciousness, and even suicide.

Back in 2006 the FDA said “We are concerned that when/if the use of this drug increases in the U.S. … there may be increasing cases of adverse consequence in the U.S.”  That time appears to be now – and as typical the FDA is silent when public health is in danger (except they are busy attacking dietary supplement companies trying to help people).

The revised FDA warning states, “People with the flu, particularly children, may be at an increased risk of self-injury and confusion shortly after taking Tamiflu and should be closely monitored for signs of unusual behavior.”

That is a very weak warning considering that three normal children jumped/fell to their death after taking the drug – one even leaving a suicide note.  Other children were struck with psychosis, delusions, and paranoia – all in formerly normal children.

These mental health side effects were not part of the Oxford research, which simply pointed out that the drugs have very little value in the first place and carry serious health risks for an unacceptably large percentage of children likely to take them.


Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Tamiflu Risks Outweigh Benefits in Children  British Medical Journal  Matthew Shun-Shin, Matthew Thompson, Carl Heneghan, Rafael Perera, Anthony Harnden, Anthony Harnden, David Mant.

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