Tamiflu not right for everyone



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Posted on October 29, 2009 at 6:06 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:45 AM

SEATTLE - Patients with swine flu have been surprised that doctors are often reluctant to prescribe Tamiflu.

There's good reason. They don't want the virus to become resistant to the drug and also because there can be some rare side-effects, as one family in Bothell found out.

Kelin Waltman knows what it's like to have the swine flu race through the family.

Nine-year-old Savannah, who has asthma, got it first.

Then everybody else caught it. All were prescribed Tamiflu.

Everybody was fine with it, but not 2-year-old Isabella.

"She turned into a completely different child. She was screaming, we couldn't console her, she was spitting out the medicine – wouldn't have anything to do with the medicine," said Kelin.

So Kelin went got on the Internet to find out how to coax her child to take the medicine. What she found came as a shock: reported side-effects.

"I would never take Tamiflu again," she said. "I was like, ok, loss of appetite, nightmares, delirium."

"Fortunately those side-effects are really rare, so people shouldn't be afraid of using if their doctor thinks it's the appropriate treatment for them," said Dr. Dan Friedman, Renton Pediatric Associates. "But it is true that in many case we want to save this drug for the people who are either at risk of getting sick or who are really sick."

Dr. Friedman says Tamiflu isn't appropriate for healthy people with mild cases.

"When we overprescribe, resistance develops, so we certainly don't want to shoot ourselves in the foot and lose the efficacy of a really great treatment when we want to save it and use it when it's appropriate," he continued.

Kelin says Isabella's reaction was a frightening experience.

"It was psychotic. She was a completely different person," said Kelin who's happy to have her daughter back to her old self now.