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Japan investigates more flu drugs linked to abnormal behavior

Japan investigates more flu drugs linked to abnormal behavior

Japan's Health Ministry is investigating two anti-influenza drugs for possible links to abnormal and sometimes dangerous behavior similar to that reported by some patients taking the flu medicine Tamiflu, officials said Tuesday.
The drugs under review, Relenza and Amantadine, have been linked to a total of 16 reports of abnormal behavior, including 13 in patients less than 20 years of age, Health Ministry official Kenji Kuramochi said.
Officials at the drug makers said no causal relationship had been proven.
Kuramochi said the reported behavior included an attempt to run out of a room. He did not elaborate on other cases.
Officials are investigating the two drugs and possible side effects, Kuramochi said. He said he had not heard of patients outside of Japan exhibiting similar symptoms.
Relenza, manufactured by British company GlaxoSmithKline, was taken in 10 of the cases, he said. Of the six patients who took Amantadine, two later died, he said, adding that one of the dead patients also took Tamiflu.
Amantadine is sold in Japan under several names, including Symmetrel, which is manufactured by Swiss company Novartis Pharma.
Novartis official Hideto Kita confirmed that all six of the reported cases involving Amantadine occurred after patients took Symmetrel.
Kita said abnormal behavior linked to Symmetrel includes attempts to run out of a room and to jump off a building.
The Health Ministry has been conducting a similar review of the popular anti-flu medicine Tamiflu. Kuramochi said that as of April 25 there were 186 reported cases of abnormal behavior among patients taking that drug, including 149 cases involving people younger than 20 years old.
The Swiss manufacturer of Tamiflu, Roche Holding AG, has insisted the drug is safe, and the ministry has not confirmed a causal link between the drug and strange behavior.
Relenza was launched in Japan in 2000, and Symmetrel was first prescribed for influenza in 1998.
Another Novartis official, Kyoko Sunada, said, "It is difficult for us to make judgment on whether or not there is a link between Symmetrel and abnormal behavior at this point."
Yoshiaki Komatsu, a spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline, said no patients have suffered serious injuries or death as a result of taking Relenza.
"The link between the drug and behavior is not clear," he said.


Updated : 2021-10-22 15:58 GMT+08:00