Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is a pill, while Relenza (zanamivir) is inhaled.
Reports from Japan indicate that children, particularly, may have a higher risk of experiencing these psychiatric side effects after receiving the flu drugs. Tamiflu and Relenza are the most common medications used for the treatment of flu. Apart from the said side effects, there have also been reports of deaths.
The safety of these treatments come under review next week by a panel of experts. The FDA staff announced their recommendations today – they say the warning should be directed at patients of all ages, not just children. Whether the side effects and deaths were caused just by the drug(s), the flu virus, or the two together is not clear, they explain. They said it would be prudent to add information to the labeling, and added that the products will continue to be monitored. They did not go as far as suggesting that the use of the drugs should be limited.
Over the last few years governments throughout the world have been building up their stocks of Tamiflu as a precaution to a possible future mutation of the H5N1 bird flu virus, which could cause a serious flu pandemic. As recent concerns regarding Tamiflu have surfaced, its sales have lost some steam. Tamiflu sales are 62% lower this year when compared to 2006, while Relenza sales have dropped 7%.