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Letter Warns About Tricky Dosing With Liquid Tamiflu for Kids
Date:9/24/2009

Meanwhile, CDC says rapid test for swine flu not effective

THURSDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors warn that parents across the country could give the wrong dose of Tamiflu to their children as treatment for the H1N1 swine flu because the dosing instructions don't always coincide with the measurement markings on the syringe that comes with the liquid medication.

The warning letter, penned by scientists from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Emory University in Atlanta and Weill Cornell School of Medicine in New York City and published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, also urges doctors and pharmacists to be on the lookout for this potential dosing mismatch and to help parents figure out exactly how much Tamiflu to give their child.

The authors cite a case that they say is probably happening all over the United States: The parents of a 6-year-old girl diagnosed with the H1N1 virus received a prescription for Tamiflu Oral Suspension that told them to give her three-fourths of a teaspoon of the medicine two times a day. However, the dosing syringe inside the box was marked in milligrams. The confused parents, both of whom are health professionals, had to figure out how to convert the measurement, something most parents would find too daunting to do.

"It's an egregious error that there is a conflict in the prescription labeling instructions and the dosage device that comes in the exact same box. It's incredibly confusing to parents," letter co-author Michael Wolf, an associate professor of medicine and learning sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a news release from the university. "Tamiflu is one of the main courses of treatment right now for H1N1, and it is being widely used among children, even infants."

The letter's authors recommend that all pharmacies and physicians be instructed to ensure that the
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