• Kyodo News

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The current ban against teens taking the influenza prescription drug Tamiflu should remain in place as long as the possible causal relationship between its use and abnormal behavior is unclear, according to researchers on a health ministry panel.

The panel’s view, which was agreed at a meeting Wednesday, will be reflected in a report to be submitted to the safety research committee of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, which is expected to approve the continuation of the ban.

Wednesday’s discussions by the panel were based on a survey of about 10,000 flu patients, conducted by the ministry between 2006 and 2007, which found the risk of abnormal behavior, including sudden running or jumping, was 1.54 times higher among teens who took Tamiflu.

But the researchers said it is too early to reach a conclusion and further studies are needed to discover the exact cause of such abnormal behavior.

“Influenza itself is known for causing such abnormal behavior among patients,” said Shigehiko Kamoshita, chairman of the panel and former head of the International Medical Center of Japan.

The health ministry decided to ban the use of Tamiflu for teens in March 2007, although the drug has been used in some cases of H1N1 swine flu detected in Japan.

On Wednesday, meanwhile, 13 new domestic H1N1 cases were confirmed, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 406. The latest cases were reported in Kanagawa, Osaka, Chiba, Shizuoka, Hyogo, Yamaguchi and Saitama prefectures, as well as Tokyo.

In Kobe, classes resumed Wednesday at a high school that was the last school to remain closed due to swine flu infections.

A total of 11 students were infected with the flu at Kobe Gakuin University High School. The school closed on May 18 and resumed a week later, only to close again on May 27 after new infections were found.

In a related development Thursday, more cases of infection were found in Shizuoka and Chiba prefectures, as well as Tokyo, bringing the tally to 410, health officials said.

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