Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Flu Drug May Cause Strange Behavior

Flu Drug May Cause Strange Behavior

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning parents and doctors to be on the lookout for bizarre behavior in kids taking the flu medication Tamiflu. Some children, mostly in Japan (where Tamiflu use is much more common), have shown abnormal signs — such as self-injury and confusion — after taking the prescription drug.
Recent cases of unusual behavior in people with the flu (especially kids) prompted the FDA and the makers of Tamiflu to issue a warning about the widely prescribed flu drug. The strange behaviors included running away from home, hitting the head against a wall, and running toward a window. Also reported were panic attacks, delusions, hallucinations, convulsions, and loss of consciousness. There were 103 cases documented between 2005 and 2006, whereas only 129 cases were reported from 1999 to 2005.
Severe cases of the flu can cause similar unusual behavior such as visual hallucinations, delirium, confusion, and inappropriate behavior. It's also important to note that Tamiflu has not been directly linked to the symptoms in these cases. The warning is intended to make people aware of a potential risk to be on the safe side, the AP reports.
Tamiflu is used to reduce symptoms in adults and children (over 1 year old) who have had flu symptoms for no more than a day or two. The drug is also prescribed to help prevent the illness from being spread to people who live or spend time with someone who has the flu.

What This Means to You
If your child is taking Tamiflu, don't stop giving the medication unless your doctor tells you to. Just make sure to closely monitor your child and call the doctor right away if you see any signs of abnormal behavior.
Although Tamiflu is used to treat and prevent the spread of the flu, it should never be used as a replacement for the flu vaccine. If you haven't already, make sure your child receives a flu shot as soon as possible. One quick immunization can help prevent kids 6 months and older from catching the flu for the rest of the season.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD

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