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article imageResearchers: Tamiflu Side-Effects Outweigh Benefits in Children

By Kevin Jess     Aug 10, 2009 in Health
Oxford researchers say that children should not be given the antiviral drug Tamiflu for swine flu because its harms outweigh any benefits and governments should review their policies on dealing with the pandemic.
The objective of the study by Oxford University was to assess the effects of the neuraminidase inhibitors oseltamivir and zanamivir in treatment of children with seasonal influenza and prevention of transmission to children in households. The most widely known names of these drugs are Tamiflu and Relenza.
Tests performed showed that the anti-viral drugs reduce the length of time children are ill with flu by about one day and can cause vomiting as a common side effect. It also showed that the the drugs had little or no effect on asthma flare-ups, ear infections or the likelihood of a child needing antibiotics meaning on average the medicine does more harm than good in otherwise healthy children.
Vomiting is more dangerous in children as it can lead to dehydration which may require hospitalization.
Given the urgent nature of the H1N1 pandemic, Europe, the United States and Canada have approved the use of anti-viral drugs in children under the age of 1 year.
Canada's antiviral stockpile contains 55.7 million doses of drug, enough to treat nearly 5.6 million people. Tamiflu, which is sold by Hoffman-La Roche, makes up 90 per cent of the holdings. Relenza accounts for the remaining 10 per cent says CTV News reports.
The study's findings question whether government policies of stockpiling enough antiviral drugs for their populations are a waste of money reports the Telegraph.
The authors of the study said that the research trials which were reviewed have been available for over a year and the Government could have carried out its own study in this before the outbreak of swine flu began.
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