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Avoid Toxic Anti-Flu Drugs


Tamiflu, the widely prescribed antiviral drug for the flu, is surprisingly still on the market.  I wrote to you about the problems with Tamiflu in a previous blog post (4.29.09—accessed here:  In that article, I told you to avoid taking Tamiflu since it doesn’t work very well and is associated with serious side effects.  A recent Cochrane study has validated this opinion.

My friend called me last night.  He was vacationing and came down with the flu.  He went to the E.R. and a nasal swab confirmed the flu virus.  He was suffering from all the flu symptoms—fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.  The E.R. doctor prescribed Tamiflu for him.  My friend asked if he should take it. 

My first comment to him was that I could not believe doctors were still prescribing this failed, toxic drug.  The best Tamiflu (and the other anti-flu drug Relenza) has been shown to do is to shorten the symptoms of the flu by half a day.  It almost sounds like a joke—half a day?  How did they measure half a day?

Tamiflu has other problems besides being ineffective.  The new Cochrane report (4.10.14) found that the anti-flu drugs are ineffective and toxic.  Remember, the Cochrane reports are done by independent investigators with no ties to Big Pharma. 

The Cochrane group reviewed data form 46 trials (20 Tamiflu and 26 Relenza) and found the drugs simply don’t work. (1)  Of course, I don’t feel that taking a toxic drug to shorten the symptoms of the flu for half a day is a success.  The drugs did not affect the number of hospitalizations or other complications from the flu including pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, and middle ear infections. 

However, the drugs were associated with severe side effects including nausea, vomiting, and headaches.  Wait a minute, I thought these symptoms were associated with the flu!  But, wait, there’s more (yes, I am in hotel room and stole that from the late-night ads).  The anti-flu drug Tamiflu was also associated with renal and psychiatric events and may induce serious heart rhythm problems. 

You would think that a drug that doesn’t work well and is associated with severe side effects would be pulled from the market.  Well, think again.  This is the FDA we are dealing with.  The FDA describes the overall performance of Tamiflu and Relenza as ‘modest’.  That is not the word I was thinking of.  Perhaps ‘pathetic’ would be a better descriptor here. 

Furthermore, the Cochrane report also stated, “…that {anti-flu medications} may be no better than other symptom-relief {treatments} such as drinking clear liquids, gargling with warm salt water, and using over-the-counter pain relievers.”  The drugs aren’t better and they are associated with serious adverse effects. 

So, who would buy ineffective, toxic drugs?  Well, the U.S. and U.K. governments have done so.  In 2009, due to an inappropriate response to the swine flu (see my previous post highlighted above) the U.S. government spent $1.3 billion and U.K spent $710 to stockpile the ineffective, toxic anti-flu drugs.

Folks, that money could have been better spent.  Maybe we could have used that money to pull two drugs, which are ineffective and toxic, from the market place.  However, that is not what the FDA does.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, the FDA works for Big Pharma, not for us. 

What did I tell my friend?  I told him not to take Tamiflu.  I advised him to maintain his hydration by drinking water and adding a little unrefined salt to it—about ¼ tsp per glass of water.  Furthermore, I told him to supplement with vitamins C and D as they have both been shown to have some efficacy with the flu.    

  1.  Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD008965. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008965.pub4 – See more at:
Author Info

David Brownstein

Comments ( 12 )

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    I knew tamiflu had problems, but I thought relenza was the better of the two, but doctors were prescribing tamiflu because the big pharma company that made it had bigger influence on them.

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      David Brownstein

      Relenza is no more effective than Tamiflu. Neither drug is worth the money nor the potential adverse effects.

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    Please, let’s be balanced here. It does no good to vilify a drug or method just because it doesn’t fit your “holistic” view. Any primary care physician practicing medicine has patients who have benefited from Tamiflu, as have their family members who take it for prophylaxis after exposure. Of course, every drug has the potential for side effects, but inaction or blind faith in “natural” remedies can cause untimely disease and death as well- i have certainly see that happen in my community. And oscillococcinum is not more effective than Tamiflu- safer, maybe, but let’s stop acting like just because something is “natural” or “homeopathic” that means it must be good.

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    To answer Mary’s question, “Is Oscillococcinum safe to take?” I have taken this product many times when I have felt flu-like symptoms coming on. It has worked quickly for me and seems to be effective in reducing and shortening the duration of flu symptoms within a day or two. Whether it is safe and effective is questionable for some people. Read more here:

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    Christopher Oshee

    My experience with tamiflu was that it is truly a miracle drug, It has to be taken early enough in the disease progress to be effective.
    I was confirmed with the flu and started on Tamiflu.
    The high fever and symptoms of aches and pains (I was in serious distress) disappeared by the next day after starting this drug.
    I was not even left with a residual cough.
    It would be tragic for other be denied the benefits of this drug due to your advise, especially the elderly and compromised.

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    Is osscillococcinum safe to take?

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    If you are really battling the flu or other infection your body will greatly increase its use of vitamin C, so it helps to take the C complex every 2-3 hours, as it washes out of the system quickly. Main indication of getting too much is loose stools, in which case cut back on the amount.

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    Thanks Dr. B for speaking up. As an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine provider I have seen first hand in china how they deal with the flu. They stock pile and prescribe herbs even though they contract manufacture the anti flu drugs. In my practice I work with several doctors and they also think based on the statistical evidence that the antiflu drugs are a cruel expensive joke. While Chinese herbal medicine can not stop the flu once it is contracted it can reduce cytokine response and lessen the chance of secondary opportunistic infections. Of course vitamin D, C complex and minerals, along with bone broth, congee and over the counter meds work synergistically for a less painful, quicker duration of the flu or cold.

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    Good to know about the Cochrane reports being independent. Never heard of them, but will definitely look for them now!

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    And lets not forget that Tamiflu was banned in Japan after 12 children died after taking it. And Roche has never released most of the the details of their Phase III trials.

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    I would add to your suggestions, the homeopathic osscillococcinumfor early flu signs and for intestinal flu, homeopathic arsenicum. I always travel with both.

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