Tamiflu turned my children into hallucinating, sobbing wrecks'
By Richard Price
Last updated at 10:12 AM on 13th August 2009
This week, it was with no small measure of satisfaction that I watched Andy Burnham, our implausibly youthful Health Secretary, squirm on the GMTV sofa.
Andrew Castle, it must be said, is no Jeremy Paxman. So when Mr Burnham agreed to take part in the show to discuss the alleged merits of Tamiflu (how it sticks in my craw even to write those words) he was doubtless looking forward to putting across the Government's point of view in the gentlest of surroundings.
What ensued was an ambush, as the visibly irate presenter revealed that his daughter Georgina had collapsed and nearly died after taking the supposedly harmless drug.
Mr Burnham, for his part, burbled some platitudes about Tamiflu being 'our main line of defence' against swine flu, and how it was a 'different phase of the illness' when Georgina was prescribed the drug.
Oh really? Perhaps Mr Burnham would have liked to come round to my house and explain the merits of Tamiflu to my three-year-old daughter as she sobbed and retched in my arms night after night.
This is to say nothing of the raging fevers, nightmares and hallucinations which plagued both our children until we decided they could take no more.
Squirming breakfast TV: Health Secretary Andy Burnham defended giving swine flu drug Tamiflu to children on GMTV as TV presenter Andrew Castle said his daughter 'almost died' after taking it
The effects of swine flu? Not a bit of it. My wife and I are utterly convinced that all these symptoms were, quite simply, the vicious side effects of Tamiflu.
Full disclosure: my wife, Jennie, was instrumental in making sure Mr Burnham appeared in public to discuss the issue. The previous night, she had appeared in the lead item on ITV's News At Ten to exhort all parents that they should think long and hard before giving Tamiflu to their children.
Having witnessed the damage wreaked by the drug at close quarters, we would never make the same mistake again.
It is difficult to explain the gutwrenching feeling of seeing your children suffer, when their pain is a result of your decision. And yet, like any responsible parents, all we wanted was to protect them.
In following the Government's advice, we thought we were taking the cautious route. How wrong we were.
Looking back, it started out in innocuous fashion.
When James's and Jessica's noses started running during a family day out in the Cotswolds late last month, we initially thought nothing of it. But when both started coughing and developed high temperatures, we rang NHS Direct to seek their advice.
Two hours later, after a flurry of phone calls starting with NHS Direct, both our children had been prescribed Tamiflu.
It was not certain that they had swine flu, but the on-call GP was pretty certain they had and it was better to be safe than sorry.
Under no circumstances were we to take the children to the surgery, so instead we were asked to dispatch a 'flu friend' to the nearest open pharmacy to collect the drugs.
At that stage - and I remember this vividly, having played it over in my mind dozens of times - both our children were reasonably well.
Jessica, in particular, seemed to regard the pills as sweets and was positively bouncing off the walls with excitement.
Needless suffering or necessary protection? Tamiflu is being handed out to thousands of children
Once the first dose had been administered, however, all that quickly changed.
James's temperature, which up to that point had been kept at normal levels with Calpol, rocketed. His appetite disappeared and when his raging thirst finally persuaded him to drink some milk, he vomited so spectacularly that we are still struggling to clear up the stains several weeks later.
For the next day he barely moved, except to be sick every time he had so much as a sip of water. We had never seen him so ill, and because he was unable to keep anything in his stomach, there was no way of controlling his temperature with paracetamol.
His fever was reaching dangerous levels and we were becoming seriously worried about dehydration. Thankfully - though we did not see it this way at the time - James is nothing if not a character.
He knew what was making him ill - the Tamiflu - and he fought tooth and nail to resist taking the drug.
Producing the packet of pills was the only thing that could rouse him from listless torpor.
In the end, we gave up. Almost immediately, his symptoms cleared up and he was back to being our happy little boy.
Jessica, however, has always been of a gentler disposition. Perhaps it is a simple matter of gender, but she is delightfully eager to please, and even after the pills started to kick in it did not take too much wheedling for her to take them.
Indeed, for a few hours all seemed well. Until we were woken in the early hours of the morning by the sound of Jessica screaming, between deep, heaving dry retches: 'I don't like the pills, Daddy! Please don't make me have the pills!'
She was hallucinating, sobbing and more upset than I have ever seen her. Eventually she rocked herself to sleep in my arms, only to wake up an hour later and repeat the process.
In the morning, exhausted, my wife sought advice from our GP.
James had made his own decision, but we were encouraged to carry on with Jessica's course.
Pills were smothered in chocolate sauce, but she was no longer to be so easily fooled.
In the end, it took the promise of a trip to the toy shop and a river of tears before she, with typical sweetness, obliged and swallowed them.
That night, however, the screams and violent retching returned. By now she was begging, pleading not to be given any more pills. We cracked. Enough was enough. The Tamiflu went in the dustbin.
So what happened when we defied government advice and eschewed Tamiflu in favour of Calpol and cuddles? Within 24hours both of our children were completely recovered, save for those runny noses.
Yet the sobering fact is that today alone, the NHS will hand out Tamiflu to thousands of vulnerable little children who will go through needless suffering as a result of scaremongering about an illness which is no more dangerous than seasonal flu.
Of course, there is always the chance that your child will not suffer side effects, and the drug could reduce the length of the illness by a day - though even the Government now admits Tamiflu does virtually nothing to relieve symptoms.
Take it from us: it really, truly, is not worth it.
Thank you, bill. From Mail Online.
Hannah sent this: great info!
Thanks, Hannah. Great information.
What an amazing cover-up. It turns out this "Tamiflu" has been controversial for years. And not just with children, but with teens.... and adults. (Who's left?)
Ever since 2005, when it was publicized as "the only drug effective against bird flu" [another "Pandemic" that wasn't], and Roche stocks were going through the roof, there were nasty rumors... which were quickly hushed up.
(Nov.12, 2005 - Australia)
Japan warns of Tamiflu deaths
Japan's health ministry has warned the anti-flu drug Tamiflu can induce strange behaviour leading to accidental death following the deaths of two teenagers who took the medicine, news reports said....
While Tamiflu carries a label in Japan warning of such side effects as "abnormal behaviour" and "hallucinations", the cases are the country's first in which strange behaviour linked to the drug has resulted in deaths, the Mainichi said
(Nov.18, 2005 - USA)
No Evidence Tamiflu Caused Deaths
FDA Finds No Link Between Anti-Flu Drug And Deaths In Japan
(AP) Federal drug regulators said Friday there was insufficient evidence to tie the flu drug Tamiflu to the deaths of 12 Japanese children or to hallucinations, encephalitis and other symptoms suffered by some Japanese patients.
Food and Drug Administration staff said they don't think it's necessary to update the drug's labeling to reflect those deaths or possible adverse effects. But the staff is recommending adding information to the label about serious skin reactions to Tamiflu.
(Feb.28, 2007 - France)
Japan Probes Tamiflu After Another Death
A 14-year-old boy jumped to his death from his balcony a few hours after taking the med. Officials refuse to draw a clear link, but they’re getting worried. As of November , 54 people died after taking Tamiflu, 16 of whom were 16 years old or younger*, says the Japanese government....
The FDA last fall ordered new cautionary wording on the Tamiflu label....
*[meaning that 38 people - 2/3 of the deaths - were over 16 years old...!]
(Aug.11, 09 - Thailand)
Study shows Tamiflu not suitable for children....
....a new study released today said that children with seasonal flu should not be given antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu, because harmful side effects outweigh relatively meagre benefits.
The study, conducted at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England, found that in some children Tamiflu caused nausea and vomiting, which can lead to dehydration and other complications....
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, comes 10 days after Britain's Health Protection Agency (HPA) reported that more than half of 248 students given Tamiflu after a classmate fell ill with swine flu suffered side-effects such as nausea, insomnia and nightmares.
But, you see, a lot of people are making tons of money from producing this drug:
Roche Holding AG, a Swiss firm (the patent holder)
Gilead Science, a US firm
South Korean drugmaker Yuhan Corp
Japan’s Chugai Pharmaceutical
Shanghai Pharmaceutical Group in China
Mylan, another US firm ("the third-largest generic pharmaceutical company in the world")
Cipla, India’s second largest drug company
AND (rumor has it*) Israel's very own Teva Pharmaceuticals
("Roche chooses partners to help make Tamiflu", Dec. 2005)
* Before we string up Teva for corporate greed ---
I note for the record that for some odd reason, all news stories name as their source a New York senator, not Teva - and not even Roche, which only said there were "advanced discussions with Teva". (And on Teva's website not a word about it.... So maybe our Israeli firm got smart at the last minute?)
But never mind --- AS WE SPEAK, Tamiflu is slowly becoming useless against swine flu.
(Aug.5, 2009 - France)
Tamiflu-Resistant H1N1 Identified Along Texas-Mexico Border
The discovery of several cases in El Paso and McAllen, Texas, adds the U.S. to a growing list of countries with antiviral-resistant H1N1, such as Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong and Japan.
[in another article, South Africa and India were added to the list]
Patient beware... and stick with the good old "drink plenty of fluids, get lots of bed rest, and ride it out."