Japanese pediatricians find no clear Tamiflu link to children's deaths

No clear link has been found between the antiviral drug Tamiflu, used to treat victims of bird flu, and the deaths of 12 children in Japan, an association of Japanese pediatricians said. The Japan Pediatric Society said in a statement Wednesday that the symptoms observed in the 12 cases could also be seen in other patients who were not given the drug, which is also used to treat other forms of influenza.

The group also said that it was possible that the children's influenza had worsened a separate underlying medical condition, leading to the deaths. The society's findings come weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also concluded that Tamiflu was not connected to the deaths.

Japan's Health Ministry issued a warning in mid-November that Tamiflu may induce "strange behavior" after reporting that two teenage boys died shortly after taking the medicine.

The society said it saw no need to issue any fresh warnings regarding the drug. However, it recommended that doctors continue to take precautions when administering Tamiflu to patients and monitor them for side effects.

Tamiflu is one of the few drugs believed to be effective in treating human victims of bird flu, which health officials fear could spark a pandemic if it mutates into a form easily passed from human to human, reports the AP. I.L.

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