Family: 6-year-old hallucinated, tried to hurt self after taking flu medication

Posted at 11:07 AM, Jan 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-15 11:07:00-05

ALLEN, TX (KTVT/CNN) – A Texas family was stunned by the side effects of common flu medication Tamiflu on their 6-year-old’s nervous system and is telling others to do their homework before taking the drug.

When their 6-year-old daughter was diagnosed with the flu, the family had the choice whether or not to give her Tamiflu, an antiviral drug that reduces flu symptoms, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

But the family, who wanted to remain anonymous, wasn’t prepared for the side effects the child would experience, including hallucinations, running away from school and an attempt, they believe, to hurt herself.

"The second story window was open, which is in her bedroom, and she used her desk to climb up onto it. She was about to jump out the window when my wife came up and grabbed her,” the girl’s father said.

The parents took their daughter to the hospital, where a doctor informed them that nervous system problems, including psychosis, can be a very rare side effect of Tamiflu.

"It can happen. Less than one percent is what's listed in the data sheet. I've been in practice 20 years, and I haven't seen that particular complication,” said emergency room physician Dr. Glenn Hardesty.

It is written in the fine print, and Hardesty says there’s always a chance of a side effect with any drug.

Still, the little girl’s parents say they wish they had known.

"I don't think the 16 hours of symptom relief from the flu is worth the possible side effects that we went through,” the girl’s father said.

His message for parents is to do your homework before taking Tamiflu or giving it to your children.

"Know that side effects are there for a reason. They're written down for a reason. I guess they can happen, and we got the short end of the stick,” the father said.

Hardesty says the side effects should be only temporary.

The 6-year-old’s parents say they sent a letter to the FDA to let them know what happened.

A question and answer section about Tamiflu on the FDA’s website includes the following regarding serious side effects:

“Children and teenagers with the flu may be at a higher risk for seizures, confusion, or abnormal behavior early during their illness… These serious side effects are not common but may result in accidental injury to the patient. People who take Tamiflu should be watched for signs of unusual behavior and a healthcare provider should be contacted right away if the patient shows any unusual behavior while taking Tamiflu.”

In addition, the FDA says it encourages consumers to report side effects.

Copyright 2018 KTVT, Tamiflu via CNN. All rights reserved. Raycom News Network contributed to this report.