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Tamiflu

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Updated January 19, 2013

Tamiflu Basics:

Tamiflu is a prescription antiviral medication that can be used to treat influenza infections (the flu) in children and adults, if their symptoms have started within the last day or two before starting to take Tamiflu. It can also be used to prevent the flu in children, teens and adults who have been exposed to the influenza virus.

What Tamiflu Is Used For:

Tamiflu is approved to treat the flu in adults and children. It is also indicated as prophylaxis, or a preventative, against the flu for adults and children over age 12 months.

Tamiflu Facts:

  • the trade name for Tamiflu is oseltamivir phosphate
  • unlike other antiviral flu medications, such as Flumadine and Symmetrel, Tamiflu is effective against both type A and B strains of flu
  • Tamiflu helps to reduce your time with flu symptoms by about 1.3 days
  • Tamiflu is a neuraminidase inhibitor
  • there is no generic version of Tamiflu available yet and 10 capsules can cost over $100 if you have to pay full price

Other facts about Tamiflu:

  • Tamiflu is available as 30, 45, and 75mg capsules and as a 6mg/ml tutti-frutti flavored Oral Suspension for children who can't swallow pills

  • some parents warn that the Oral Suspension is not a very good tasting medicine, so you might add extra flavoring, especially if your child does not take medicine easily
  • Tamiflu may be taken either with or without food

  • Tamiflu does not treat other flu-like viral infections, such as the stomach flu, colds, or RSV

Dosage of Tamiflu::

  • Treatment of Flu (all twice a day for 5 days)
    • Adults and teens over 13 take 75mg
    • The dosage for younger children who are 1 year and older depends on their weight:
      • <33lbs - 30mg - need 1 bottle
      • >33 to 51lbs - 45mg - need 2 bottles
      • >51 to 88lbs - 60mg - need 2 bottles
      • >88lbs - 75mg - need 3 bottles
    • Infants between the ages of 2 weeks and 12 months can take 3 milligrams per kilogram twice daily for five days.
  • Prevention of Flu
    • Adults and teens take 75mg once a day for 10 days
    • Children over age 12 months take the same dose they would for treatment of the flu, but take it just once a day for 10 days

Tamiflu Side Effects:

The most common side effects in pediatric patients taking Tamiflu for the treatment of the flu include vomiting, abdominal pain, epistaxis (nosebleeds), ear disorders, and conjunctivitis (pinkeye).

Tamiflu is being investigated under the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, because in a safety review, 'unusual neurologic or psychiatric events such as delirium, hallucinations, confusion, abnormal behavior, convulsions, and encephalitis' were reported. However, the reports were almost all from children in Japan, where there were 12 deaths in pediatric patients, although the FDA 'can not conclude that there is a causal relationship between Tamiflu and the reported pediatric deaths.'

What You Need To Know:

Tamiflu should be started as soon as possible after a child develops flu symptoms, and at least within two days, or as soon as possible after you have been exposed to someone with the flu, if you have not had a flu shot.

Other important information:

  • Tamiflu is thought to be effective against the Bird Flu, leading some countries and individuals to create stockpiles of Tamiflu
  • A flu test can help to determine if your child's symptoms are caused by the flu, so that you can determine if Tamiflu will even be helpful, but treatment should not be delayed while you wait for flu test results.
  • Several shipments of fake or counterfeit Tamiflu pills have been seized, so if ordering Tamiflu on the internet, only buy Tamiflu from a reputable online pharmacy.
  • Tamiflu capsules can be compounded into a suspension by pharmacists or parents can even mix the appropriate dose of a capsule into a sweetened liquid, such as chocolate syrup or grape jelly.

Sources:

  • Tamiflu Complete Product Information Sheet. Revised March 2011.
  • FDA Tamiflu Pediatric Adverse Events: Questions and Answers

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