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OPINION: Read the fine print this flu season

Students are unaware of the Tamiflu controversy during this flu season, making it important for USF to guide students towards the proper medications. ORACLE PHOTO/JUSTIN SEECHARAN

Flu season has officially begun and may last until February, according to the CDC website.

During flu season, individuals begin to flood doctor’s offices and take medications prescribed by their physician.

Students need to keep in mind that what a doctor prescribes isn’t always reliable and it is essential to do research before taking any medication. USF’s Center for Student Well-Being should provide resources explaining the well-researched side effects and functions of common medications.

Tamiflu is an antiviral medication used to treat those who have experienced no more than two days of flu symptoms, according to the Tamiflu website. The CDC strongly advocates for people to take Tamiflu when diagnosed with the virus, according to the CDC website.

Physicians continue to believe Tamiflu is reliable to take when infected with the flu. 

“If Tamiflu is taken early enough, it can shorten your illness by a couple of days and reduce the severity of your symptoms. It can also be prescribed preventively for high-risk patients who have been exposed to a family member with influenza,” said family medicine doctor Richard Oley in a September 2022 Geisinger Health article.

However, many students and physicians have not been informed of the Tamiflu controversy that has been ongoing since the early 2000s. 

In 2009, during the swine flu pandemic in Japan, people taking Tamiflu began to develop psychotic symptoms as a result of the medication, according to The Skeptic’s Guide to Health, Medicine and the Media, a 2019 book written by Roy Benaroch. 

This side effect has not been reported by the FDA as a direct cause of Tamiflu, only as an effect of influenza, according to the FDA website. However, a 2014 review by Cochrane, a global organization of researchers and professionals that investigate global health policies, stated that Tamiflu can cause these psychotic events.

Cochrane discovered that previous research conducted on Tamiflu was based on unpublished data from Roche, the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the drug, according to a March 2020 article from McGill University.

Roche claimed that Tamiflu had the ability to significantly reduce hospitalizations and flu symptoms. Although the medication is able to reduce symptoms, Cochrane proved that the reduction in hospitalizations was a false claim.

Currently, the only reported symptoms of Tamiflu include vomiting, nausea and headaches, according to the Tamiflu website.

Through the data fabrication and falsification conducted by Roche, people – including physicians – are misled.

The USF Center for Student Well-Being exists so that students can access resources that allow them to live healthy, well-balanced lives, according to its website.

If the Center for Student Well-Being is able to provide resources on mental health and physical education, it should also be able to provide resources that guide students toward taking safe medications that are better for their health.

To help students figure out what medications are safe, the Center for Student Well-Being should provide students with a guide of common medications prescribed by physicians and their common side effects. 

This guide should be created with an extensive literature review of published research articles on each drug in order to ensure that the proper functions and side effects of the medications are listed. This literature review should be conducted by physicians and medical researchers on campus who have been trained in analyzing research articles pertaining to these topics.

It is essential for students to be cautious of the medications they are taking and to be skeptical of what professionals may say as it is not always correct. USF’s Center for Student Well-Being should take action to assist students in preventing being misled and give them healthy medication options to take during this flu season.