A leading British medical journal is contending the effectiveness of Tamiflu, a flu drug produced by manufacturer Rothe, claiming that there is no evidence to show the drug can actually stop the flu.
The drug has been stockpiled in dozens of countries worldwide in the case of a global flu outbreak and was used widely during the swine flu pandemic of 2009, reports Fox News.
But on Monday, a researcher with the British medical journal called on European governments to sue over the Ramiflu product. Peter Gotzsche, leader of the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen, stated:
“I suggest we boycott Roche’s products until they publish missing Tamiflu data.”
Gotzsche added that governments should take legal action against the pharmaceutical company to get back their money, which was “needlessly” spent on stockpiling Tamiflu.
The flu drug is used to treat both the seasonal flu and new flu viruses like bird and swine flu. World Health Organization spokesman Gregory Hartl stated that the agency has enough proof to include the drug on its list of “essential medicines” because of evidence that it can help against unusual influenza viruses, according to CBS News.
Hartl added, “We do have substantive evidence it can stop or hinder progression to sever diseases like pneumonia.” But Roche has yet to make public its Tamiflu data, raising questions on whether or not it can actually help patients. Fiona Godlee, editor of the British medical journal, wrote about Tamiflu last month, saying:
“Despite a public promise to release [internal company records] for each [Tamiflu] trial … Roche has stonewalled.”
The company responded by saying they have complied with all legal requirements surrounding the data for the flu drug and even provided Gotzsche and his colleagues with 3,200 pages of information in answer to their questions. The pharmaceutical company added:
“Roche has made full clinical study data … available to national health authorities according tot heir various requirements, so they can conduct their own analyses.”
Along with the British medical journal’s Tamiflu questions, Roche is also being investigated by the European Medicines Agency for not properly reporting side effects — including possible death — for 19 of its drugs, including Tamiflu, which were used to treat about 80,000 patients in the United States.