Family suspects Tamiflu caused suicide of teen

Posted at 10:07 AM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-31 10:07:15-05

INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN/CNN) - Tamiflu is a medicine meant to help fight the flu, but some young patients are reacting badly to the medicine.

Charlie Harp was 16 years old and a high school wrestler. His family believes an extreme side effect of Tamiflu caused Charlie to commit suicide.

"Had I known this was an issue, I would've never given it to him," said Jackie Ray, Charlie's aunt and guardian.

Charlie had never shown any signs of suicidal thoughts.

Brad Ray, Jackie's husband and Charlie’s uncle, said when they were looking for answers, they were trying to figure out if anything had changed in Charlie’s life. He had started taking Tamiflu.

The warning label on Tamiflu states that pediatric patients may be at an increased risk of confusion or abnormal behavior.

“Any medication you put in your body is going to react differently with every person,” said Dr. Jason Henney at St. Vincent's Hospital.

In Henney's seven years at St. Vincent Hospital, he hasn't seen any patients with extreme Tamiflu side effects such as psychosis or acting delusional.

"The reality with Tamiflu is that if the flu typically lasts seven days it shortens that duration by about 12 hours so it's not a big dramatic difference maker for most people who have the flu,"

Last winter, Charles Ellis says days after his then 11-year-old daughter Lindsay took Tamiflu she had violent hallucinations, she barely ate, talked or even moved. She spent nearly three months in the hospital.

"She was right there, I’m sure on the cusp of it if we didn't just stop and catch it in time put our guards up to say hey something is going on," said Ellis.

With a flu shot not as effective as in years' past, more than 100 Indiana residents have already died this season.

"You don't have a lot of other options as far as treating the flu except for Tamiflu, if you want to treat it that's about your only option." Henney said.

"It’s not worth it, it's not worth it to have a three-month doctor's visit. Now it's not worth it to bury a child. It's not worth it. It's just not worth it," Ellis said.

Copyright 2018 Charles Ellis, WXIN via CNN. All rights reserved.