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Analysis: Millions wasted on shoddy flu drug, Tamiflu

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/14/2014 (4 years ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Report said drug only slightly improved flu symptoms

It's an especially harsh analysis for a drug that many people keep in their bathroom mirror for a sudden outbreak of the sniffles. A new analysis says that many millions may have been wasted on Tamiflu, a common drug used to treat flu symptoms. According to the report, Tamiflu works no better than paracetamol and only slightly helps symptoms.

The analysis, from the Cochrane Collaboration claims Tamiflu did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications.

The analysis, from the Cochrane Collaboration claims Tamiflu did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
4/14/2014 (4 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Tamiflu, flu, report, analysis, effectiveness


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The United Kingdom has spent Ł473 million on Tamiflu, which is kept stockpiled by governments to globally prepare for flu pandemics.

The analysis, from the Cochrane Collaboration claims Tamiflu did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications. In response, the manufacturers of Tamiflu, Roche along with other experts say the analysis is flawed.

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Tamiflu was stockpiled from 2006 in the U.K. when some agencies were predicting that a pandemic of bird flu could kill up to 750,000 people in Britain. Similar decisions were made in other countries. In addition, Tamiflu was widely prescribed during the swine flu outbreak of 2009.

The recent report is on account of a colossal fight for the previously hidden data into the effectiveness and side-effects of Tamiflu.

Tamiflu, according to the report, reduced the persistence of flu symptoms from seven days to 6.3 days in adults and to 5.8 days in children. In short, drugs such as paracetamol could have a similar impact.

On claims that the drug prevented complications such as pneumonia developing, Cochrane suggested the trials were so poor there was "no visible effect."

A justification given for stockpiling Tamiflu was to slow the spread of the disease to give time for a vaccine to be developed. The report's authors said "the case for this is simply unproven" and "there is no credible way these drugs could prevent a pandemic."

The report also claimed that the drug had a number of side-effects, including nausea, headaches, psychiatric events, kidney problems and hyperglycaemia.

"I think the whole Ł500m has not benefited human health in any way and we may have harmed people," Carl Heneghan, Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford and one of the report's authors, told journalists.

"'Does a drug work?' should be an easy question to answer. Yet after hundreds of millions of pounds, either down the drain or saving lives depending on your stance, this question is being asked of Tamiflu.

"It stems from the way drugs are approved. Pharmaceutical companies conduct trials, some but not all of the data is made publicly available and regulators decide if it works. It is estimated that, entirely legally, half of clinical trials have never been reported and that favorable data is more likely to published.

"The U.K. Public Accounts Committee said the lack of data available to researchers and doctors was 'of extreme concern,'" he says.

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