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Beware of Tamiflu

Posted by medconsumers on January 10, 2011

All bets are off about the safety and effectiveness of Tamiflu, the anti-viral drug widely prescribed to treat or prevent influenza. Roche, the Swiss company that makes Tamiflu, has failed to keep its pledge to make the full results of ten unpublished studies available to researchers, according to a press release e-mailed today from Tom Jefferson, MD, and colleagues at the Cochrane Collaboration, an independent, international organization that evaluates clinical trials.

This is yet-another story about the perils of drug company-sponsored studies. When studies show their product in an unfavorable light, some drug makers make sure the findings remain unpublished and therefore not subjected to critical review.

By not releasing the promised data from its clinical trials, Roche appears to have something to hide. Thus far, Dr. Jefferson and colleagues know of “ten serious adverse events in patients enrolled in two key [Tamiflu] manufacturer-funded trials” that went unreported in medical journals. No independently funded studies of Tamiflu have been conducted.

Over one year ago, this team of researchers became aware of the unpublished Roche studies when it was in the process of updating a 2006 Cochrane review of all aniviral drug trials. Working with incomplete data from Roche, the 2006 Cochrane review found anti-viral drugs were effective in reducing flu symptoms and complications. This played a major role in allowing Roche to promote its drug as safe and effective. The sale of anti-viral drugs skyrocketed once they got the World Health Organization’s endorsement. The WHO seal of approval encouraged the U.S. and many other countries to spend $10 billion dollars on stockpiling Tamiflu and $2 billion for another anti-viral drug Relenza.

Read this for background on this long simmering issue that dates back to 2009.

Read this June 2010 investigative report in the British Medical Journal. It details the undisclosed financial links to the pharmaceutical industry of the WHO experts who fanned the flames of fear about the approaching 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) “pandemic,” which ultimately caused fewer influenza-related deaths than any normal flu season.

At the start of the 2009-2010 flu season, this website described Tamiflu as “marginally effective.” Now we don’t know whether it’s even that good. Read “How good is Tamiflu?”

Maryann Napoli, Center for Medical Consumers(c)

2 Responses to “Beware of Tamiflu”

  1. jeff said

    Golden rule = he with gold makes the rules – Greed will be our down fall – & oh the payola from the BIG drug houses.

  2. LMMendez said

    Just another example of somebody (pharmaceutical companies) getting away with whatever makes them richer, with the helpof the government.
    Hoboken NJ

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