Tamiflu works to block the influenza virus types A and B in the body. It is used to treat flu symptoms in patients who have had the virus for less than two days and can be given to patients to prevent the flu if they have been exposed to the virus. Tamiflu is manufactured by Roche Laboratories and was approved by the FDA in 1999. Tamiflu was approved for use in patients as young as one year old. Tamiflu has been prescribed to approximately 33 million people worldwide.
Tamiflu has been linked to some serious side effects, especially in children. The drug has been linked to abnormal behavior and other brain effects such as hallucinations and psychotropic effects. In 2008, the FDA required the makers of the drug to warn users of these potential risks.
The FDA began to take notice of serious side effects that could be attributed to Tamiflu after it received a report of 103 cases of self-injury and delirium in in patients taking the flu drug. Most of these patients were children. 95 of these cases were from Japan, five were from the United States and three were from other countries. 60 of these cases experienced delirium, behavioral disturbances, panic attacks, hallucinations and convulsions.
Following this report, the FDA looked at more than 1,800 children who had taken Tamiflu and experienced abnormal behavior. Of these patients, 55 experienced severe side effects such as convulsions, delirium and delusions.
More than 25 deaths of patients under the age of 21 have been attributed to this drug as well. Most of these patients resided in Japan. A couple of these patients committed suicide while on the drug. The makers of the drug claim that the strange behavior can be attributed to the illness itself instead of the drug, although that has not been proven.
Serious side effects may include:
- Some people using Tamiflu have had rare side effects of sudden confusion, delirium, hallucinations, unusual behavior, or self-injury. These symptoms have occurred most often in children.
Less serious Tamiflu side effects may include:
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Dizziness, headache
- Eye redness or discomfort
- Sleep problems (insomnia)
- Cough or other respiratory symptoms