Half A Billion Pounds ‘Wasted’ On Anti-Flu Drugs
Half a billion pounds has been wasted stockpiling two ineffective anti-flu drugs, according to researchers.A study claims there is “no good evidence” Tamiflu and Relenza stop the spread of the infection or prevent the complications of influenza.
Researchers, from The Cochrane Collaboration and the British Medical Journal (BMJ), also claim taking the drug could increase a person’s risk of nausea and vomiting.
The authors also said the drugs had a number of side effects including headaches, kidney problems and psychiatric syndromes.
Cochrane’s editor in chief Dr David Tovey said: “Initially thought to reduce hospitalisations and serious complications from influenza, the review highlights that Tamiflu is not proven to do this, and it also seems to lead to harmful effects that were not fully reported in the original publications.
“This shows the importance of ensuring that trial data are transparent and accessible.”
Pharmaceutical company Roche, which makes Tamiflu, said it “fundamentally disagrees” with the latest review.
Roche’s UK medical director Dr Daniel Thurley said: “Roche stands behind the wealth of data for Tamiflu and the decisions of public health agencies worldwide, including the US and European Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organisation.”
The Department of Health said Tamiflu has a “proven record” of safety, quality and efficacy.
However, a spokeswoman said: “We regularly review all published data and will consider the Cochrane review closely.”
Professor Wendy Barclay, influenza virology expert at Imperial College London, said: “This new report, taken alongside a lot of other data collected in different settings, does not convince me that the risks of taking Tamiflu or Relenza would outweigh the benefits.”