The â€˜slightly effectiveâ€™ flu drug Tamiflu will now carry a health warning after around 100 cases of delirium were reported by users in Japan. The drug which is being used to limit outbreaks of bird flu in Asia is also being heavily promoted as a treatment for general flu in the US.
Wikipedia describes delirium as a â€˜decline in attention-focus, perception, and cognitionâ€™ and the cases reported in Japan were mainly from children and involved confusion, self-harm and in some extreme cases suicide.
It seems Roche is eager to influence your children in some way with Tamiflu considering it recently funded the childrenâ€™s film â€˜Happy Feetâ€™.
What should a pharmaceutical company do when it realises it has spent billions of dollars in R&D to come up with an anti-flu drug that is only slightly effective? Well Roche, the makers of Tamiflu, have decided the best thing to do is increase its advertising campaign for the drug.
Tamiflu is an antiviral drug that is supposed to be taken at the first signs of flu to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. A single treatment will cost around $80 but the drug has come under fire for only being modestly effective, maybe only reducing symptoms by 1 or 2 days. Critics say the real benefit of using Tamiflu is only when there is a genuine flu epidemic such as a break out of avian flu when the drug should be circulated to minimise the transmission of the new strand of virus.