GMTV host Andrew Castle almost lost daughter to swine flu drug after 'respiratory collapse'
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:46 AM on 11th August 2009
Tamiflu terror: Andrew Castle pictured with daughters Georgina (left) and Claudia
GMTV presenter Andrew Castle today revealed how his daughter almost died after taking Tamilfu following an outbreak of swine flu at her south-east London school.
The former tennis player spoke of his familys ordeal in a heated exchange with health secretary Andy Burnham who defended the decision to give the drug to children as "our only line of defence'.
Mr Castle hit back and described how his daughter, Georgina, 16, suffered a respiratory collapse and "suffered very heavily after being 'just handed" Tamiflu.
The health secretary appeared on the breakfast show today to defend the use of the drug after research cast doubts on whether its benefits outweighed the side effects.
But the 45-year-old television presenter told how Georgina was given Tamiflu when five pupils at Alleyns School in south London were diagnosed with the illness in May.
He told Mr Burnham: I can tell you that my child - who was not diagnosed at all - she had asthma, she took Tamiflu and almost died, he said.
We saw a respiratory collapse through it and it almost cost my older child her life, he said on GMTV.
Nobody checked that she had swine flu beforehand. The Health Protection Agency just handed it out at the school and a lot of kids suffered in the school very heavily.
He went on: The doctors surgery wouldnt take her. The doctor said No, we cant take her to A&E. So shes just on the floor having this nightmare of a situation. A lot of people are in this situation. They dont know what to do.
Mr Burnham told the presenter: It must have been a very worrying situation for you, but that was in a very different phase of the illness when we were seeing the scenes from Mexico and we were in what we call the containment phase, where we were trying to isolate every case and then give Tamiflu to those around those cases."
He said his message to parents was that they should not be worried if their child was taking Tamiflu for swine flu.
Heated exchange: Health Secretary Andy Burnham and presenter Andrew Castle clash on GMTV this morning
A Department of Health spokesman said no two cases were the same and anyone with concerns should contact their GP or the National Flu Centre where staff were highly trained to deal with this.
Some 300,000 people in England have received the drug through the Governments National Pandemic Flu Service for England.
But Oxford University researchers are urging to Government to rethink its policy. Yesterday they warned that Tamiflu can cause vomiting in some children, which can lead to dehydration and the need for hospital treatment.
SWINE FLY DRUG TAMIFLU SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN TO CHILDREN, EXPERT WARNS
Hard choice: Anti-virals help some children
Parents were warned last night not to give Tamiflu to children with swine flu because the risks far outweigh the negligible benefits.
Scientists said the powerful anti-viral puts children at higher risk of dangerous complications but has little impact on the length of their illness.
The study for a respected medical journal is the most extensive research of its kind yet carried out.
It concluded that Tamiflu also has very little impact on the spread of swine flu, and handing it out freely could even increase the virus's resistance to the drug.
The research will spark widespread confusion as it contradicts the Department of Health, which encourages parents to ring a hotline to get Tamiflu for their children at the first sign of flu-like illness.
It comes just a fortnight after a study found half the children taking Tamiflu had side-effects such as vomiting, nausea and nightmares.
The Government's emergency flu hotline handed out no fewer than 100,000 packs of Tamiflu to children under 12 in its first two weeks.
But the research, published in the British Medical Journal, queries this strategy of giving the drug to anyone with potential symptoms over a hotline manned by staff with no medical training.
Tamiflu: Researchers said children should not be given the anti-viral drug
The two experts behind the study said the Government should hold an urgent review into its policy.
Dr Carl Heneghan, a GP and expert from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, warned that Tamiflu was not a 'magic bullet'.
He and Dr Matthew Thompson, a GP and researcher at Oxford University, analysed four studies of children aged one to 12 taking Tamiflu or another anti-viral, Relenza.
It found that these children were likely to get better less than a day earlier than they would with just rest and recuperation, while in two of the studies the benefit was not statistically significant.
Worryingly, one out of every 20 children who took the drug vomited. Vomiting is potentially serious in children as it can cause dehydration and hospital admission.
Dr Heneghan said of Tamiflu: 'The downside of the harms outweigh the one-day reduction in symptomatic benefits.'
Dr Thompson said otherwise healthy children with mild symptoms should be treated with rest and drinks to cool high temperatures but parents should be on their guard for any signs that their child is getting worse
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