Daily Mail Reporter
August 11, 2009
Parents were warned last night not to give Tamiflu to children with swine flu because the risks far outweigh the negligible benefits.
Scientists said the powerful anti-viral puts children at higher risk of dangerous complications but has little impact on the length of their illness.
The study for a respected medical journal is the most extensive research of its kind yet carried out.
It concluded that Tamiflu also has very little impact on the spread of swine flu, and handing it out freely could even increase the virus’s resistance to the drug.
The research will spark widespread confusion as it contradicts the Department of Health, which encourages parents to ring a hotline to get Tamiflu for their children at the first sign of flu-like illness.
It comes just a fortnight after a study found half the children taking Tamiflu had side-effects such as vomiting, nausea and nightmares.
The Government’s emergency flu hotline handed out no fewer than 100,000 packs of Tamiflu to children under 12 in its first two weeks.
But the research, published in the British Medical Journal, queries this strategy of giving the drug to anyone with potential symptoms over a hotline manned by staff with no medical training.
The two experts behind the study said the Government should hold an urgent review into its policy.
Dr Carl Heneghan, a GP and expert from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, warned that Tamiflu was not a ‘magic bullet’.
He and Dr Matthew Thompson, a GP and researcher at Oxford University, analysed four studies of children aged one to 12 taking Tamiflu or another anti-viral, Relenza.
It found that these children were likely to get better less than a day earlier than they would with just rest and recuperation, while in two of the studies the benefit was not statistically significant.
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