Tamiflu? More Like Scamiflu: Tamiflu Should Not Be Used for Routine Control of Flu

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Tamiflu? More Like Scamiflu: Tamiflu Should Not Be Used for Routine Control of Flu

Despite Record Sales, Research on Drug’s Effectiveness Is Incomplete

WASHINGTON - Tamiflu, the anti-flu drug being snapped up in record amounts, does not
prevent serious complications from the flu and should not be used for
routine control of the flu in healthy adults, Public Citizen said
today.
 
In an article sent this week to online subscribers of www.WorstPills.org,
Public Citizen called for an independent review of raw data from
clinical trials funded by Tamiflu’s maker, Roche. The company has
claimed that the drug dramatically reduced hospital admissions as well
as bronchitis and pneumonia. But a recent investigation by the British
Medical Journal and British TV Channel 4 concluded that such claims
were meritless.
 
In the wake of widespread media coverage of the H1N1 virus, Tamiflu
sales have skyrocketed. In October, 2.5 million prescriptions were
filled in the U.S. compared to just 35,000 prescriptions in October
2008. For the past 12 months, 6.8 million prescriptions were written,
compared with 4.3 million the previous 12 months.
 
“Tamiflu is being erroneously peddled as a panacea to flu,” said Sidney
Wolfe, M.D., director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “In
fact, no research exists to support this in healthy adults. At best, it
can modestly reduce some minor flu systems in such people for a day.”
 
All of the clinical research conducted to determine the effectiveness
of Tamiflu on healthy adults has been funded by the drug’s
manufacturer, Roche. The British investigation involved a review of all
published studies examining the effects of Tamiflu in preventing
serious complications of the flu in otherwise healthy adults. The
authors concluded that we “have no confidence in claims that [Tamiflu]
reduces the risk of complications and hospital admission in people with
influenza,” and they wrote that it should not be used in routine
control of seasonal influenza. There was also concern about
underreporting of side effects of the drug. 
 
Although the data available were gathered before the H1N1 virus made
its appearance, the results can probably be extrapolated to H1N1
because it is another variety of flu, Wolfe said.
 
The article, “Tamiflu? More Like Scamiflu,” is available free for seven days at www.WorstPills.org.

 

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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