On August 5th, World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that pregnant women should start taking Tamiflu, immediately upon initiation of flu symptoms, regardless of diagnosis of swine flu. To our view, this recommendation is not scientifically proven and does not honor the credibility of the Organization.
Oseltamivir and zanamivir are traded under the names Tamiflu and Relenza, respectively. Although they reached the market at the same time, Tamiflu has gained a bigger share since it comes as a tablet, in contrast to Relenza which is sold in the form of inhaled spray. Both of these antivirals belong to the pharmacological class of neuraminidase inhibitors (the “N” on the H1N1 denotation), which in simple terms means that they hinder the exit of the virus from the human cell, hence limiting the viral spread in our body. That’s why both drugs are to be taken within 48 hours from the start of the infection, when the virus is actively trying to overtake our defenses.
If you visit the official Tamiflu site and search about the side effects (http://www.tamiflu.com/sideeffects.aspx) you will find the following statement "TAMIFLU is normally not recommended for use during pregnancy or nursing, as the effects on the unborn child or nursing infant are unknown".
We wonder what has changed, in scientific terms, between the long lasting issuing of the company’s warning and yesterday’s recommendation by WHO. Has a new clinical trial taken place that proves the safety of the drug in pregnant women and unborn children? None that we are aware of! The “only” incident that we can think of, is the death of six pregnant women in USA and one in England, from the new swine flu. Now, forgive our cynicism, but it is common knowledge that pregnancy is a high risk situation. There is no proof whatsoever that, during a flu epidemic, pregnancy becomes less of a risky business if it is combined with Tamiflu use. Specifically when, this combination is COUNTERRECOMMENDED by the drug maker itself!
In our view the whole situation is not only irrational but it edges totalitarianism. We are facing a uniquely absurd situation, where the drug maker has no responsibility for the use of a drug -since it clearly states against its use during pregnancy- that an official organization strongly recommends for its use!
In any case, neuraminidase inhibitors are drugs that are marginally effective and are used only because WHO decided -unscientifically, (more on this later)- to call the swine flu epidemic, a pandemic.
One last note: in Japan, the country with the highest Tamiflu consumption, its use has been banned in kids and adolescents, because of recorded cases of suicidal and violent behavior. Is the “pandemic” that we are facing so severe, as to justify the exposure of unborn babies to an unsafe drug?