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US Reviews Risks Of Tamiflu After 12 Children Die

e in the Far East, has spread to birds and poultry Europe. At least 50 countries including the US, UK and Japan have placed orders worth $1.4bn (£810m) to prepare for a flu pandemic experts say is inevitable. India has bought 100,000 doses of Tami Flu.

The British Government has ordered 14.6 million courses of Tamiflu at a cost of £200 million. Three million courses have been delivered and the remainder is due by September next year.

Japan is the only country with extensive experience of Tamiflu. The drug is routinely used by all sectors of the population during the winter flu season to shorten the duration of the illness, reduce complications and slow its spread. The Japanese health ministry issued a warning in June last year about psychological and neurological disorders linked with Tamiflu.

The European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA), which licenses drugs in the EU, said that it had asked Roche to follow closely reports of psychological disorders, delusional states and abnormal behaviour linked with the drug.

In the UK, Tamiflu has been little used since its launch in 2003 and there have been only 41 yellow card reports linked with it of adverse reactions, involving 161 separate side effects. One case was of agitation and two were of confusional state. Under the yellow card system doctors record symptoms that could be linked with a drug. The reports are intended to provide early warning of possible problems.

In the UK, the side effects listed for Tamiflu include nausea, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, rash and - rarely - hepatitis and Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a life-threatening condition in which the skin blisters and sloughs off.

The two Japanese boys who died in separate accidents were reported to have exhibited abnormal behaviour after taking the drug. A high school student of 17, who was at home alone, ran out of his house and jumped over a railing into the path of a lorry in February 2004, shortly afte
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