The popular flu-fighting drug Tamiflu is raising some serious concerns among pediatricians along the Gulf Coast.
A Fairhope doctor tells us she rarely prescribes the drug because she thinks the side effects outweigh the benefits.
“In healthy kids who don’t have any underlying medical conditions like asthma or heart disease, you will have to weigh the pros and cons of whether or not this medication is right for those children,” Dr. Katrina Skinner with Fairhope Pediatric said.
Side effects include vomiting, aches, and chills. The Food and Drug Administration said it has received reports of Tamiflu causing kids to hallucinate. That's why Dr. Skinner and many other doctors are avoiding the drug.
Tamiflu full statement:
Extensive evaluations so far have shown no evidence of a causal link between Tamiflu and the occurrence of psychotic events.
Influenza can be associated with a variety of neurologic and behavioral symptoms that can include events such as hallucinations, delirium, and abnormal behavior, in some cases resulting in fatal outcomes. These events may occur in the setting of encephalitis (swelling of the brain) or encephalopathy (a disease that affects the function or structure of the brain) but can occur without obvious severe disease.
There have been postmarketing reports of delirium and abnormal behavior leading to injury, and in some cases resulting in fatal outcomes, in patients with influenza who were receiving Tamiflu. Because these events were reported voluntarily during clinical practice, estimates of frequency cannot be made but they appear to be uncommon based on Tamiflu usage data. These events were reported primarily among pediatric patients and often had an abrupt onset and rapid resolution. The contribution of Tamiflu to these events has not been established. We advise that patients closely monitor themselves (and/or family and friends monitor them etc.) for any behavioral changes, as well as any other side effects, and discuss with a healthcare practitioner as appropriate.
Some parents vouch for the drug, saying it works wonders. Dr. Skinner said there are better ways to stay flu free.
“Best way to keep your kids healthy during the flu season is to make sure they get their flu vaccination. And just teach them to wash their hands, cover their mouths when they cough, and just keep them away from other sick people,” Dr. Skinner said.
If your child takes Tamiflu and experiences unusual side effects, you’re urged to report that to Genetech by calling 1-888-835-2555 or to the FDA by visiting www.fda.gov/medwatch or calling 1-800-FDA-1088.