A piece in the Daily Telegraph stunned me today by showing that, despite saying they would in the BMJ no less, the makers of Roche have not supplied the promised data to prove that the £200m worth of the drug purchased in 2005 by the UK Government actually works. In fact, scientists from the Cochrane Collaboration have had to resort to requests for the data under the Freedom Of Information Act! Only then have they discovered, unsurprisingly, that some of the data in trials did not match the data used to convince purchasers. Another example of negative trial results being withheld in the name of profits. Roche are said to have made £1.9 million from Tamiflu alone in 2009.
Have a read of the article yourself and see previous comments on flu here. I have no doubt that anti-virals and perhaps Tamiflu can save lives, but it may turn out not be the saviour-drug it was believed to be and we may have millions of pounds worth of stocks we shouldn’t have bought. If it turns out Roche were misleading governments, I hope they will be made to refund the money and take the stock back. But I can’t see that happening anytime fast, can you?
Perhaps we can make a reasoned and educated decision on the use of Tamiflu in future – if we can get the full data. In the meantime, something doesn’t smell very nice about all this.
- Researchers renew fight with Roche over flu drug evidence (blogs.nature.com)
- Tamiflu: Side effects and effectiveness of ‘wonder-drug’ under the microscope (dailymail.co.uk)