Thu, Nov 16, 2006 - Page 4 News List

No evidence found linking Tamiflu to alleged side effects

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

No scientific evidence links the anti-viral drug Tamiflu with delirium and abnormal behavior, despite recent reports of alleged cases in Japan, said Lin Ting (林頂), deputy director-general of the Center for Disease Control.

Lin said that while some flu patients might indeed display disturbed behavior after being treated with Tamiflu, the effects are likely the result of encephalitis associated with the influenza, not the treatment.

According to an AP report, 103 possible cases of psychiatric side-effects in Japan have prompted the US Food and Drug Administration to recommend the addition of a warning message on Tamiflu packaging.

"We keep a large stock of Tamiflu for use against influenza epidemics or a bird flu outbreak," Lin said. "But we do not use it routinely to treat flu patients as they do in Japan."

Describing the use of the anti-flu medicine in Japan as "indiscriminate," Lin said that Tamiflu is currently only administered to those who display flu symptoms and have just traveled from parts of the world where the H5N1 avian influenza virus is endemic.

As for what people can do to stave off the virus, Lin suggested taking advantage of free flu vaccines the government provides for at-risk groups -- those over 65 years old, children between the ages of six months and two years, poultry industry workers and medical care providers.

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