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Potential Problems with Tamiflu, and Questioning The Benefits of the Flu Vaccine

Posted by Catherine Morgan on November 26, 2007

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Potential Problems with Tamiflu, and Questioning The Benefits of the Flu Vaccine — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at BlogHer)

New warnings from the FDA about possible psychiatric events being observed in some patients that have taken Tamiflu and Relenza (antiviral medications used to minimize the symptoms of the flu).

When it comes to the flu, there are two aspects of concern. First…Are the medications safe? And second…Are the vaccines beneficial? Here are some of what’s been in the news and on the blogs recently.

Personally, I choose not to get the flu vaccine. In general, I just feel we are over vaccinated in this country. And maybe it’s just been a coincidence, but when I have gotten the flu vaccine, it seemed to exacerbate my already problematic medical conditions.

In documents prepared for the meeting next week and posted on the FDA’s Web site, agency staff recommended that Tamiflu’s label be strengthened to note: “In some cases, these behaviors resulted in serious injuries, including death, in adult and pediatric patients.”

The FDA staff also reviewed Relenza, a drug in the same class as Tamiflu, recommending its label be changed to note “reports of hallucinations, delirium and abnormal behavior” observed in some patients taking the drug. — Read Full Article

From a post at Nurse Tips – Health Headlines

Reports of neurological problems in children taking the flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza mean the medicines need a warning label on their packaging, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration safety review released Friday.

According to the Associated Press, the safety review follows 25 deaths among Tamiflu users under the age of 21, most of them occurring in Japan. In five cases, children fell from windows or balconies or ran into traffic, the AP said. — read full post

Then there is the issue of the Flu Vaccine…

CDC Facts about the Influenza (Flu) Vaccine

It seems the main controversy over the Flu Vaccine, has been over the possible adverse reactions to it. But equally as important, is discovering whether or not there is an actual benefit to this vaccine…And studies are now beginning to show, that the benefits may not be as great as we have been led to believe.

A new report has been released in which the effectiveness of flu vaccinations is queried. Focusing on their performance within the elderly, the report asserts that no data exists to suggest that yearly flu jabs prevent those involved from contracting significant illnesses in future years.

Those behind the report conceded that flu stood as an “important contributor” towards illnesses including emphysema and bronchitis. However, they added, no marked difference was noticed in the frequency of either condition within those that had had vaccinations, and those who passed on them. — Read Full Article

This is from Escaping To My Happy Place

Offering a sharp critique of the evidence, the authors of the study offered several reasons for questioning the notion that flu immunization saves lives in the elderly population:

1. Even thought vaccination coverage among the elderly has increased from 15% to 65% since 1980, the overall mortality due to pneumonia and influenza in elderly people has increased in that period.

2. Few randomized, placebo-controlled trials have examined flu vaccine effectiveness in elderly people. The largest and best study, done in the Netherlands, showed a 50% reduction in confirmed flu cases among all the volunteers, but the reduction for those older than 70 was only 23%.

(Blogger’s Note: for regular folks, that still left only a 50% effectiveness. The flu vaccine has more listed side effects than any vaccine package insert I have ever read, including a host of respiratory problems such as ASTHMA)

There was no significant reduction in influenza-like illness. (Blogger’s Note – so you don’t get the flu, but you get flu-like. What a nice exchange!)

3. A number of investigators have reported finding evidence of flu vaccination benefits in the elderly by analyzing the records of large healthcare organizations. But these studies typically are flawed in that investigators looked for an effect on all-cause mortality, a nonspecific outcome, rather than on lab-confirmed flu.

4. Further, many such studies may be marred by a subtle selection bias, wherein relatively healthy older people were more likely to be vaccinated, thereby making vaccination look more beneficial than it really was.

More debate over the Flu Vaccine.

So…How do you feel about these latest findings? Do you get the Flu Vaccine? Why or why not? Are you concerned about the possibility of psychiatric problems related to the anti-viral medications used to treat the flu? Would you let your child take it if prescribed?

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