British researchers have recently concluded that some flu medications, such as Rocheâ€™s <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/tamiflu">Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKlineâ€™s Relenza, should not be used on a regular basis in children. Reuters reported that, according to the researchers, no definitive evidence exists to indicate that such drugs actually prevent complications. The medications might also cause more harm versus benefits, they noted.
These findings could be of particular relevance in light of the ongoing swine flu epidemic, which is expected to increase when the upcoming flu season hits.
The team is urging for additional study for such flu drugsâ€”known commonly as antiviralsâ€”in pediatric patients aged 12 and under, based on a review of clinical data from prior flu outbreaks, said Reuters. According to the analysis, there were minimal benefits and the potential of adverse reactions, reported Reuters.
Looking at seven clinical studies in 2,629 seasonal flu outbreaks in which Tamiflu and Relenza were used in children aged 1-to-12 years of age, Dr. Matthew Thompson from the University of Oxford explained that, yes, the antivirals did cut the flu length by half, reported Reuters. Unfortunately, use of the antivirals, said Dr. Thompson, did not minimize asthma flare-ups or the need for antibiotics. Also, Tamiflu was associated with an increased vomiting risk, said Reuters, noting that this can be particularly worrisome in children because of the linked risk of dehydration.
Meanwhile, governments worldwide have been stocking up on Relenza and Tamiflu, noted Reuters. For instance, in Great Britain, â€œhundreds of thousandsâ€ of Tamiflu doses have been distributed to flu patients, half being children, said Reuters.
According to Thompson, reported Reuters, these findings are likely applicable to the ongoing swine flu outbreak. Reuters quoted Dr. Carl Heneghan, another Oxford researcher, as saying, â€œThe strategy of giving out this treatment in a mild infection is inappropriate.”
The research also revealed that to prevent one case of flu, 13 people required antiviral treatment, meaning that antivirals only reduce flu transmission by a mere eight percent, reported Reuters. “While morbidity and mortality in the current pandemic remain low, a more conservative strategy might be considered prudent, given the limited data, side effects such as vomiting, and the potential for developing resistant strains of influenza,” the team wrote in the British Medical Journal, quoted Reuters.
In late 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alerted doctors and parents to watch for signs of bizarre behavior in children treated with Tamiflu after federal health officials noticed an increasing number of such cases overseas. There had been reports of 596 neuropsychiatric events, including 16 neuropsychiatric-related deaths among children and adults taking Tamiflu, according to documents posted online at the time on the FDAâ€™s Website. Japan was also the origin of 81 Relenza reports and, according to Health Canadaâ€™s adverse reaction database, 27 people reported adverse reactions to Relenza, including one adult who died. One 14-year-old reported nightmares and another six-year-old temporarily lost consciousness. Another 96 people reported adverse reactions to Tamiflu, including 11 adults who died and nine who reported psychiatric problems.