Friday, 31 July 2009

Why not just put Tamiflu in the water..?

Hello again dear reader,

Been getting loads of feedback via twitter (@GPforhire) about my last posting. Apparently you didn't realise that Tamiflu isn't all its cracked up to be. Not surprising really as the negative side of tamiflu has had very little coverage. I could be paranoid and think that the government is suppressing reports of its lack of efficacy and side effects but is Labour capable of that?

Things are changing a little, there was this report in the Guardian today, and a previous one in May. I saw a young child last week that got a nasty rash from the drug. We've had multiple patients that couldn't tolerate the tamiflu due to vomiting and then phone us in a panic worried that they'd succumb to Swine Flu without their magic bullet drug.

Just so you know that I'm not making this up heres a few links that have looked at various bits of data.
You might have to be a BMA member to see the full articles

Tamiflu and anti-inflammatories (aspirin, ibuprofen or diclofenac) might be a nasty combo
GPs seeing lots of patients with side effects from Tamiflu
Tamiflu and neuropyschiatric side effects in teenagers - case not proven, caution recommended
Use of Tamiflu in children not supported by the evidence

So for the record, I wouldn't take Tamiflu, and neither would anyone in my family. Not for Swine flu anyway. For Avian flu I'd probably take it but resistance to it is growing.

Another worrying development:


I know of 3 deaths that have happened recently because they were thought to have Swine Flu but sadly had something much more serious which was missed until it was too late. This number will increase as the number of people assuming they have Swine Flu when they have something else will no doubt increase.

We run a simple problem clinic at our practice (see my earlier blog entry). Its been nearly empty this week. Summer holiday don't make that much difference to the numbers. I think its because these patients are confusing their symptoms with Swine Flu and using the Pandemic Line to get their tamiflu. These patients will probably turn up next week complaining of side effects from their treatment for their non-existent Swine Flu. I know some docs who have been swabbing patients still. Roughly 10% of the patients they thought had Swine flu actually had it on swabs. Thats experienced GPs seeing patients face to face and are still getting it wrong 90% of the time. God knows what the general public numbers would be like. Its madness frankly. Countless thousands of people taking Tamiflu (via the Pandemic line) for a mild self-limiting illness which they haven't even got!!

Quick link before I go. Heres a website run by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency MHRA. You can report any side effects from Tamiflu here. Tamiflu is a black triangle drug and so all side effects (even minor ones) should be reported. Its how we get to know if a drug is doing something odd. Anyone can report a side effect, doctor or patient.

Stay Healthy and see you again soon!


  1. Good old tamiflu, at least its made Rumsfeld rich; Bushes goverment may have fallen over but his staff found otherways to make a sweet buck :p

    You are right though, blanket treating people with medicines a risky business, more so without any form of formal diagnosis first. It's like giving rheumatism drugs to everyone who complains of a little wrist pain.

  2. Since your post last week I've been telling all my friends that I wouldn't give any of my children tamiflu, I think one may have had Swine flu but who really knows without her being swabbed?
    I've never been one for giving out painkillers/meds unless really really necessary (it's the evil nurse in me) . It's good to hear another point of view ( by someone that knows)

  3. I completely agree about the whole Tamiflu thing. I'm fascinated by your stats regarding correct diagnosis of flu by doctors - I wonder if this means the numbers of infected people being bandied about may be wildly overestimated, as I suspect most of the diagnoses are based on clinical rather than laboratory evidence. The potential for misdiagnosis and mismanagement is huge and frankly rather terrifying.

  4. I (finally) spoke with an out of hours GP that echoed your opinions last night but that was only after I'd insisted on not being palmed off after the original receptionist/nurses I spoke with refused to speak with me until I called the helpline. My two year old had a temp of over 39. Next thing you know, a call centre agent is prescribing Tamiflu telling me in a robotic voice that my child has 'respiratory complications from flu'. They're so eager to push this medicine on us. We were very annoyed and we're not medicating her with it. We think she has a bug but the thing is we won't know because they're too busy trying to 'diagnose' with swine flu.

  5. yeas i think that tamiflu disappoint me i thought that this medication was better but i was wrong one of the best medication around is Generic Cialis i used it and is amazing no comparison .