Concerns over Tamiflu side effects

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The popular prescription medicine to help shorten flu symptoms, Tamiflu, is becoming the not so popular choice for pediatricians at Via Christi in Wichita.

"Prescribing patterns for Tamiflu has definitely shifted over the last couple of years," pediatrician, Dr. Amy Seery said.

Dr. Seery says the drug has its side effects.

"I've started warning parents it can cause a lot of stomach upset and even diarrhea," Dr. Seery said.

She says Tamiflu only shortens flu symptoms by about 12 hours if you start taking it early enough. However, there are many reports of Tamiflu causing frightening side effects. The parents of 16-year-old Charlie Harp of Indiana says the drug caused Harp to commit suicide.

The warning label on Tamiflu states pediatric patients may be at an increased risk of confusion or abnormal behavior.  Dr. Seery says she hasn't seen any of that, but it's on her radar.

"It is being strongly considered by the CDC and it is being reevaluated, but we don't have concrete evidence at this point that it's harmful for children to have exposure to this," Dr. Seery said.

While the number of Tamiflu prescriptions have dropped at some doctors offices. Homeopathic purchases have picked up. Sprouts Farmers Market in east Wichita is having a hard time keeping items on its shelves. Natural supplements like elderberry and Boiron Oscillococcinum are popular for preventing the flu and relieving symptoms.

"The Boiron I can't even get anymore. They said they'll be out of the six dose and the twelve dose until March," Sprouts employee, Jamie Crank said.

Dr. Seery says when it comes to these types of remedies she wants to remind people they're not FDA approved. She says your best bet for fighting the flu is still the vaccine for children and adults.

There have been 48 flu-related deaths this flu season in Kansas.

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