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Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Tamiflu isn’t a wonder drug

This piece of BMJ research certainly grabbed the attention of the media yesterday. Though at the moment, anything to do with flu seems to get picked up on and linked to swine flu in some way.

As the research itself actually details “it is difficult to know the extent to which the findings can be generalised to children in the current swine flu pandemic but, based on current evidence, the effects of antivirals on reducing the course of illness or preventing complications might be limited.”

This is not to say that all children should not be given anitvirals like tamiflu. What perhaps we need to bear in mind is that we are learning more about antivirals, the more we use them. And while we know they are safe, we also know that vomiting and diarrhoea can occur in some children and adults who take them.

GPs have always said that doctors need to balance the risk of major complications from swine flu and the risks of side-effects from antivirals.

The more we learn about these drugs the more we will know how to treat patients with the most up-to-date clinical evidence. Tamiflu has a place in dealing with and containing the spread of swine flu, but it’s not a “cure all”.

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