Tamiflu – did Roche hide flu pandemic data? – Truthloader


Remember this? This was a pretty common scene on your TV
screens back in 2006. We were being warned about a pandemic, a global outbreak, of bird
flu. In Britain alone, some people were predicting
it could kill as many as three quarters of a million. But by November 29 2006, the world health
organisation, was reporting a global death toll of 154. Although there were huge culls
of birds. The fear of getting caught out by a pandemic
prompted governments to stockpile an antiviral drug called Tamiflu, which is produced by
the pharmaceutical company Roche. In fact that fear of a flu pandemic prompted
the UK government to spend five hundred million pounds on stockpiling the drug. In Canada, they spent 67.5 million dollars
stockpiling Tamiflu and Relenza, which is another antiviral, but produced by GlaxoSmithKline. Sales were so successful that Roche reported
a rise in profits of 8 percent in early 2010, following the swine flu outbreak, where in
the UK at least, Tamiflu was heavily prescribed. So, in order to create those huge sales and
profits and make their shareholders happy, what had they done? Well, you would assume that they had produced
a wonder drug. But a new study suggest that that might not be the case. Following questions from the scientific community,
Roche eventually agreed to hand over all the data from their clinical trials for independent
analysis by the Cochrane Collaboration. It’s a common practice for pharmaceutical
companies to withhold trial data and cherry pick information that suits their needs to
get a drug to market. Creating false positives that reduce the appearance
of side-effects and promote the efficacy of a drug. And it’s totally legal in the UK and in many
places in around the world for the drugs companies to withhold that information. Now the Cochrane Collaboration is a global
organisation, a not for profit organisation, which consists of about 14,000 academics,
some of whom sifted through the evidence from Roche. And their finding was that Tamiflu was not
a wonder drug at all. In fact, they found that it was no more effective than paracetamol
at treating flu. They found that the drug reduced flu symptoms
from 7 days down to 6.3 days in adults and 5.8 days in children. They also said there was “no visible effect”
on the prevention of complications resulting from flu, like pneumonia for example. There wasn’t enough data to see if Tamiful
actually reduces deaths and the report’s authors also found that the drug does have adverse
side effects that had been dismissed or overlooked. One of the key things about medication is
you’ve got to show benefits. There are no benefits to show with these drugs that should
then say these harms should be outweighed. So no benefits, all you will do is accentuate
the harms. If you start to scale this up on a large scale, you’re going to see a number
of people with psychiatric adverse events, you’ll see people with renal adverse events,
you’ll see a lot of people not able to take the drug because there’ll be nausea, vomiting
and headaches. So you take all that together and there will be a substantial proportion
of people who will be at harm. In response, Roche has criticised the conclusions
of the study and has said that they could “potentially have serious public health implications”. They argue that the Cochrane group used the
wrong statistics and had ended up underestimating the benefits of the drug by using unorthodox
methods. In fact, here’s Roche’s UK medical director,
Dr Daniel Thurley: The results of the Cochrane group are really
an anomaly because the same data has been provided to 100 regulators around the world,
they’ve had access to all the data, all the way through that they’ve needed for their
assessments and they’ve concluded that Tamiflu and the other medicines are important treatments
for patients with flu and also to prevent people catching flu if they come into contact
with somebody who has flu. No in defence of the Cochrane Collaboration’s
defence, Ben Goldacre describes them as the gold-standard in medicine, because they summarise
all of the data on a given treatment, and they are in constant review cycle. So was it a colossal waste of taxpayers money
by governments around the world to stockpile Tamiflu? Were regulators and governments misled
by the perfectly legal practice of withholding data? And if they were, shouldn’t the laws
on data publication be changed? What do you reckon of the Cochrane review’s process?. You guys make your own minds up, let us know
what you think in the comments. There are links in the description and these are some
of the more relevant videos we’ve done on pharmaceutical industry and drugs. Have a
click on some of them if you want to find out more and, if you haven’t already done
so, please subscribe to the channel. See you in a bit.

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