Sendai teen’s suicidal plunge after taking Tamiflu probed

Kyodo

A 14-year-old boy fell from a condominium in Sendai and died Tuesday, apparently after taking the flu treatment Tamiflu the day before, police said.

Police received a call around 1:20 a.m. from his mother, saying the boy had fallen. The teen had severe head injuries and was taken to a hospital, where he died shortly afterward, according to police. The family lives on the building’s 11th floor.

Police are investigating a possible link between the drug and his fall.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said it is not clear if a causal link can be established between the boy’s action and the drug, despite reports of similar abnormal actions, including fatal leaps from buildings, by those who took Tamiflu.

The government is building a stockpile of the drug, also known as oseltamivir phosphate, as part of its preparedness against an epidemic of a new form of influenza.

No suicide note was found and the boy’s family told police there was no reason for them to think he would commit suicide.

The teen was diagnosed with flu Monday morning at a hospital and was recuperating at home, police said. He is believed to have taken one Tamiflu pill at around 9:30 a.m. after seeing a doctor and another one just past 6 p.m. along with two pills of Calonal, a fever drug concurrently prescribed.

Sleeping in the same room as his mother, the boy woke up and left the condominium, according to police. The 1.72-meter-tall teen apparently climbed over a 1.26-meter wall along the outside corridor and fell to a parking lot.

The drug is produced by the Swiss group Roche and imported for sale in Japan by the group’s Japan unit, Chugai Pharmaceutical Co.

On Saturday, a group calling themselves victims of Tamiflu-induced brain symptoms asked the health ministry to acknowledge a link between the drug and abnormal behavior, and to issue a warning.