Over 10 years ago (and before my natural healing journey), I was traveling through Europe and went to a pharmacy to treat common cold symptoms. I had no fever, no chills, and no muscle aches, and yet, the pharmacist talked me into taking what was then a still-new drug for treating the flu, Tamiflu.
Skeptical, but not seeing other options in a foreign country, I decided to try it.
What followed were 48 hours of hellish side effects — strange delusions and hallucinations, accompanied by fever and complete disorientation. All of this came from just one dose, one pill.
What would have happened if I had taken it for the recommended duration of twice-a-day for five days?
As I later found out, it is not uncommon to experience psychiatric episodes such as delirium, delusions, hallucinations, and nightmares with Tamiflu.
These symptoms have not only adversely affected people, but have been linked to dozens of deaths.
But despite that (and repeated call-outs from skeptical health whistleblowers and scientists), the drug remains on the market, racking up over 800 million dollars in 2016 for the California based pharmaceutical giant Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. and Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Unfortunately, most people still don’t realize the immense harm this drug is capable of causing, until it’s too late.
And according to one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, its claims for treating the dreaded flu virus each year may be highly exaggerated at best, if not a complete fabrication.
Potential Dangers of Tamiflu
Tamiflu or oseltamivir phosphate is an antiviral medication that was approved in the U.S. in 1999, and in Europe in 2002. Its maker Roche made big promises; the drug is marketed to both treat and prevent the flu virus – “the first pill to treat influenza.”
As has been discovered over and over again, it does not always do what it promises, while underplaying serious side effects.
Many people have been saved by this drug, especially in emergency situations. It has done its fair share of good in the world, that much is for sure, but analysts wonder if Tamiflu has been as forthcoming as it should be about the potentially devastating side effects that may also occur, as well as its overall effectiveness.
British Medical Journal Casts Doubt on Drug’s Test Results
In 2012, the British Medical Journal called out Tamiflu on what it called “missing data” supporting the drug’s ability to work properly— claiming there is no evidence the drug can actually stop the flu according to CBS News.
A World Health Organization spokesman responded by saying the agency has substantive evidence that the drug can help to stop or hinder the progression of severe disease like pneumonia.
But the BMJ remained unconvinced.
In 2017, the WHO dealt a serious blow to the drug’s potential sales and reputation, removing Tamiflu from its list of “essential” medicines to “complementary,” in what the BMJ called a “vote for evidence based policy making, which will save money and harm.”
Meanwhile, however, the drug is widely sold, and as of 2012 it was also approved for children as young as 2 weeks old.
Today, Tamiflu is a common anti-viral drug to be recommended by doctors. But it doesn’t take a lot of digging to find the truth about the dangers of this “common” flu drug.
The Untold History of CDC’s #1 Recommended Flu Drug
According to the CDC, Tamiflu is the first drug recommended for influenza each year.
But even though it may work for some, studies have shown that it only shortens flu symptoms for about half a day.
Its ineffectiveness was particularly evident during the swine flu pandemic of 2009. Europe spent millions on the drug, and studies later showed its surprising ineffectiveness. Instead, it may actually worsen flu symptoms.
Research from 20 clinical trials found that for some people, Tamiflu prevents their immune system from producing their own antibodies to fight the illness, leaving them more susceptible to it.
“This drug was given to 1,000 people a week over a phone line, but it was no better for symptom relief than over-the-counter medication — and you’re talking about potentially serious complications. I wouldn’t prescribe it to my patients,” said Dr. Carl Henegen of the University of Oxford.
Besides not working, the drug caused all sorts of side effects.
“The stuff is toxic. It increased the risk of psychiatric events, headaches and renal events in one in 150 people. People reported nausea, vomiting, and constriction of the airways,” said epidemiologist Dr. Tom Jefferson of The Cochrane Collaboration.
(This conclusion was reached after The Cochrane Collaboration retrieved data from Tamiflu, which was considered to be confidential).
The most extreme side effects of Tamiflu (one that I have experienced) is psychiatric episodes.
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Psychiatric Nightmare: Child Deaths in Japan
Suicide is not a side effect that one expects from a flu medication, but this is exactly what has happened in Japan. At least eight kids and three adults reportedly committed suicide after taking Tamiflu, and there were over 1,745 cases of children experiencing psychiatric side effects as well in the country.
A total of 1,800 of these reports were delivered to the FDA in 2005, out of which 55 were from the U.S. There have been at least 70 reported deaths worldwide.
(Keep in mind that few people report negative reactions to drugs; I never reported mine. Japan requires adverse event reporting; the U.S. does not. Studies have shown that as little as 1% of all adverse events are being reported in the U.S.).
The Japanese cases got the most attention.
- Two boys jumped from the second story of their homes.
- A 14-year-old girl was diagnosed with delirium after she felt there was a stranger in her home when there was no one there, declared that her salad is poisoned, and finally said that she wanted to kill herself.
These three survived but others did not.
- Another 14-year-old girl jumped off a balcony.
- An 8-year-old rushed out of his house hallucinating, which later led to his death.
- A 17-year-old jumped in front of a moving truck.
“He ran out into the snow barefoot in his pajamas, climbed over a 3-meter fence to cross train tracks and then ran into a truck,” said his father Haruhiko Nokiba.
Many others have reported depression and anxiety, and experiencing other psychopathic events.
- A girl in South Korea developed a bipolar disorder and started to growl.
While cases in Japan gained worldwide attention, patients in the U.S. who also had horrifying experiences took to the Web to warn others.
Customer reviews of the drug are confirming psychiatric experiences:
“My 7-year-old was prescribed Tamiflu. It helped his flu symptoms, but caused him to hallucinate, very agitated and feelings of wanting to hurt others.”
“Throwing up, acid in my stomach, insomnia and then got the panic attacks and depression…I am not on any anti-depression medication or anything. But I actually felt like I could die and it would be better. The thoughts racing through my head were horrible.”
“Within hours of taking TAMIFLU I was hospitalized because I could not breathe from throwing up so much, my nose was stopped up from the flu and throwing up blocked my airway…At one point while vomiting my eyes were so glazed over and I almost passed out because I was so weak. My husband was terrified for me and I honestly felt like I was having an out-of-body experience.”
Near-Death Experiences in Europe and the U.S.
Besides psychiatric episodes, life-threatening reactions and events happened to many children in Europe and the U.S.
- British TV host Andrew Castle’s daughter Georgina almost died after taking Tamiflu. She has asthma and experienced a respiratory collapse from the drug, which was given to her without a diagnosis. Castle told his story on television in 2009 and confronted health secretary Andy Burnham (in office 2008-2009) who was defending the drug.
This was the Swine Flu year when Tamiflu was recommended by the British government only later to be discovered by research that it was unnecessary and even risky for children to take this drug.
Adults have also been injured due to a Tamiflu side effect.
- Samantha Goddard was in a coma for two weeks after an allergic reaction to Tamiflu. She was left blind, scarred, and with damage to internal organs.
- Dr. Lawrence G. Roberts, known as “the father of the Internet,” totaled his car after blanking out and driving his BMW straight into a tree, hours after taking Tamiflu.
These are just some of the potential real life examples of the drug’s long list of devastating possible side effects.
Tamiflu’s Other Side Effects
Tamiflu is made from oseltamivir phosphate and a cocktail of inactive ingredients, any of which could be adding to its severe side effects.
Its inactive ingredients are: pregelatinized starch, talc, povidone K 30, croscarmellose sodium, sodium stearyl fumarate. The capsule is made of gelatin, titanium dioxide, yellow iron oxide, and red iron oxide.
The powder for oral suspension contains: sorbitol, monosodium citrate, xanthan gum, titanium dioxide, tutti-frutti 19 flavoring, sodium benzoate, and saccharin sodium.
Besides psychiatric episodes, some people report the worst nausea and stomach pain they have ever experienced, worse than the flu itself can give.
Nausea and vomiting are one of the most common side effects with this drug.
Looking at its insert, we can estimate that if one million people took this drug, about 90,000 will experience vomiting; 70,000 – diarrhea; 20,000 will have headaches, and 20,000 will have abdominal pain.
Other potential adverse events include bronchitis, dizziness, insomnia, vertigo, and fatigue.
But the side effects list does not stop there. Here is the list of serious adverse reactions that were reported after the drug went on market:
- Body as a Whole: Swelling of the face or tongue, allergy, anaphylactic/anaphylactoid reactions
- Dermatologic: Dermatitis, rash, eczema, urticaria, erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis
- Digestive: Hepatitis, liver function tests abnormal
- Cardiac: Arrhythmia
- Gastrointestinal disorders: Gastrointestinal bleeding, hemorrhagic colitis
- Neurologic: Seizure
- Metabolic: Aggravation of diabetes
- Psychiatric: Delirium, including symptoms such as altered level of consciousness, confusion, abnormal behavior, delusions, hallucinations, agitation, anxiety, nightmares
There are better ways to protect from the flu:
What Is Next for Tamiflu Battle?
After everything that happened, instead of banning this drug, it has been approved for kids as young as 2 weeks old.
And a generic version of it was created in 2016 (generic drugs are oftentimes more dangerous because due to regulations, they are not required to update their warning labels even when new information about adverse reactions emerges and the FDA is not in a hurry to change this regulation anytime soon).
What’s worse is that Tamiflu together with the FDA and other organizations continue to refute links between Tamiflu and the adverse reactions it has been shown to cause.
However, independent reports including one by The Cochrane Collaboration found that many negative drug trials were left unpublished, purposefully hidden from the public – over 100,000 pages of information.
Still, the FDA has not acted the way victims have hoped.
As Dr. Peter Doshi, who specializes in independently analyzing pharmaceuticals, pointed out, the issue is that we do not have real watchdogs. As he found out from his research, a watchdog for Tamiflu does not exist, and there is unlikely to be any action taken again this drug anytime soon.
For now, all we can do is spread the knowledge and hope consumers finally get the message that the FDA, and health organizations around the world for that matter, have been ignoring for so long.