GMTV star Andrew Castle confronts health secretary, Andy Burnham, over policy of giving drug to children
Andrew Castle, right, with co-presenter Penny Smith confronted the health secretary, Andy Burnham, over giving Tamilflu to children during the swine flu pandemic.
The health secretary, Andy Burnham, today defended giving the antiviral drug Tamiflu to children for swine flu as TV presenter Andrew Castle said his daughter “almost died” after taking it.
Burnham was confronted by Castle on GMTV after researchers said the antiviral drug’s benefits did not outweigh its side-effects during the flu pandemic.
Castle said his older daughter, Georgina, had a “respiratory collapse” and “suffered very heavily” after being “just handed” the drug without a proper diagnosis.
The presenter said: “I can tell you that my child – who was not diagnosed at all – she had asthma, she took Tamiflu and almost died.”
Burnham sympathised with Castle, saying it must have been “very worrying”, but maintained that advice to parents to treat swine flu with Tamiflu remained unchanged.
The MP said Georgina would have been given Tamiflu during the earlier “containment” phase of swine flu.
He stressed that the research dealt with seasonal flu, not swine flu: “It’s very much a safety-first approach.”
Given that swine flu had a “disproportionate effect” on children, the minister maintained that the antiviral drug was “our only line of defence”.
Some 300,000 people in England, including children and adults, have received Tamiflu through the government’s National Pandemic Flu Service for England.
But yesterday, Oxford University researchers said children should not be given the antiviral drug to combat swine flu. They urged the Department of Health to rethink its policy on giving the drug to under-12s during the current pandemic.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), warned that Tamiflu could cause vomiting, which could lead to dehydration and the need for hospital treatment.
The researchers said children should not be given the drug if they had a mild form of the illness, although they urged parents and GPs to remain vigilant for signs of complications.
Parents of children with a compromised immune system or a condition such as cystic fibrosis should discuss the harms and benefits with their GP, they said.
But overall, the researchers said, children who were otherwise healthy could suffer more harm than benefit from taking Tamiflu or another antiviral, Relenza.
The researchers also found that using antivirals as a preventative measure had little effect – reducing transmission of flu by 8%.
The study was carried out in April and May, before the government decided to stop using Tamiflu preventatively.
Only those with suspected or confirmed swine flu were now getting the drug and are being urged to get access to Tamiflu through the pandemic flu service, which is accessed online or via a telephone helpline.
A Department of Health spokesman yesterday dismissed the researchers’ claims that their findings would also apply to swine flu.
“The BMJ review is based on seasonal flu and not swine flu,” he said.
“As the authors note, the extent to which the findings can be applied to the current pandemic is questionable – after all, we already know that swine flu behaves differently to seasonal flu, and past pandemics have hit younger people hardest.”
Georgina, 16, was given Tamiflu when five pupils at Alleyn’s school in south London were diagnosed with the illness in May.
“We saw a respiratory collapse through [the drug] and it almost cost my older child her life,” her father said on GMTV.
“Nobody checked that she had swine flu beforehand. The Health Protection Agency just handed it out … and a lot of kids suffered in the school very heavily.”
He went on: “The doctor’s surgery wouldn’t take her. The doctor said, ‘No, we can’t take her to A&E.’
“So she’s just on the floor having this nightmare of a situation. A lot of people are in this situation. They don’t know what to do.”
Burnham told the presenter: “It must have been a very worrying situation for you, but that was in a very different phase of the illness when we were seeing the scenes from Mexico and we were in what we call the containment phase, where we were trying to isolate every case and then give Tamiflu to those around those cases.
“We’ve got to keep things in proportion and people shouldn’t worry unnecessarily. People shouldn’t take Tamiflu unless they have got swine flu.”
Burnham said his message to parents was that they should not be worried if their child was taking Tamiflu for swine flu.”
Tuesday 11 August 2009 10.40 BST
Source: The Guardian
– Oxford University researchers said children should not be given Tamiflu or Relenza to combat swine flu:
Children under the age of 12 should not be given Tamiflu or Relenza, the two antiviral drugs that form the cornerstone of the government’s fight against swine flu, because their side-effects outweigh any benefits,
– Bird Flu Medicine Toxic for Teens (Korea Times)
– What’s Missing From Every Media Story about H1N1 Influenza (Natural News)
Tamiflu has just one anti-viral incredient in it and that is Star Anise. A herb that is mainly used by TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Yet TCM would never just prescribe just one herb to do the job. TCM looks at the entire bodily condition and strengthens the entire body with several herbs and acupuncture or even Qi Gong exercises.
TCM had a cure rate for diseases in general of over 95% (before China was invaded with MSG, junk food and GMOs).
Western medicine can just dream of that. Western medicine has a very high ‘supress the symptoms rate’, which usually aggravates the health condition in the long run (as intended), but then thats it.
Big Pharma and western medicine just ‘borrow’ ancient knowledge, patent it and sell it to you as ‘the cure’ and calls herbal medicine ineffective and unscientific.