Teenage Girl Left Blind and Disabled
by Antiviral Tamiflu Treatment
A teenage girl left disabled by the swine flu treatment Tamiflu
did not even have the virus, it was revealed.
Samantha Millard, 19, became critically ill after suffering a
severe allergic reaction to the tablets, which she took on the
advice of the controversial
Within 72 hours of taking three pills, doctors put her on life
Samantha spent a month in hospital after developing the life-threatening
Stevens Johnson syndrome, which causes the skin to peel off, and
later developed toxic epidermal necrolysis syndrome, which has
damaged her sight.
But tests at the hospital have since revealed that she never
even contracted the swine flu virus.
Her devastated mother Debbie Van Horenbeeck is now seeking legal
advice about the information given out by the NHS swine flu helpline.
She believes that Tamiflu has not been tested thoroughly enough.
They have disabled my daughter from that helpline,
said the 42-year-old, who is now her daughter's full-time carer.
'When they told her she had swine flu, they did not inform her
of anything that could go wrong. The Government told us we should
take this if we got swine flu.
Doctors believe it will take up to two years for Samantha - who
has lost a stone (14 pounds) in weight - to recover and do not
know if her eyesight will ever be restored.
She said: Its hard. I cant bathe myself, I
cant dress myself, I cant watch films and I cant
I sit in my bedroom with my sunglasses on, curtains closed
and the TV on so I can hear it. I dont know how long it
will take for my eyes to heal.
I know Im improving but some days its really
hard to cope with it. I cant cry - I have no tears.
Samantha, of Bicester in Oxfordshire, had taken just three of
the 10 tablets when she broke out in a red rash.
Within hours, her body was covered in painful blisters which
were so severe her long hair had to be shaved off.
She was rushed to hospital, where tests later revealed that she
never actually contracted the swine flu virus.
The student at Bicester Community College now needs to use eye-drops
every hour and wear sunglasses and a hat whenever she leaves her
Last year the Mail revealed some of the call centres speaking
to people with suspected swine flu were manned by 16-year-olds
with just three hours training.
A leading health expert also claimed last week that the swine
flu outbreak was a 'false
pandemic' driven by drug companies that stood to make billions
of pounds from a worldwide scare.
Wolfgang Wodarg, head of health at the Council of Europe, accused
the makers of flu drugs and vaccines of influencing the World
Health Organisation's decision to declare a pandemic.
This led to the pharmaceutical firms ensuring 'enormous gains',
while countries, including the UK, 'squandered' their meagre health
budgets, with millions being vaccinated against a relatively mild
Sitting at her daughter's bedside last year, Debbie said: 'It
shouldn't be the case that people with no medical background can
make these decisions.
'These people are just Joe Bloggs off the street. My daughter
could die because of this. Her condition is getting worse.
Stevens Johnson syndrome affects just three in a million people
and is usually triggered by an adverse reaction to medication.
The mortality rate is around 15 per cent.
Victims develop terrible scarring all over their bodies as well
as severe conjunctivitis which can lead to blindness and mouth
infections which can stop them eating.
A Roche spokeswoman said the incident would be investigated and
could not rule out the role of Tamiflu in triggering the syndrome.
She said: 'While it is difficult to determine the role of Tamiflu
in Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, the prescribing information for doctors
carries information regarding single cases of Stevens-Johnson
Syndrome that have been reported.
A Department of Health spokesman said: 'We are sorry to hear
about this young woman's illness and hope she recovers quickly.
'Stevens Johnson Syndrome can happen after medicines or infections
and it is very difficult to pinpoint the cause. Serious reactions
to Tamiflu are extremely rare and it should still be taken as
soon as possible, especially for very serious swine flu cases.
January 22, 2010