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Health Secretary: We expect honesty from drugs firms

Responding to a report questioning the efficacy of Tamiflu, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the suggestion that some key data was not made available by makers Roche was "worrying" and said it was "essential" that pharmaceutical companies give full access to all their data.

Roche said it "disagreed with the overall conclusions" of the study by the British Medical Journal and The Cochrane Collaboration.

Read: Why stockpiling anti-flu drugs may not be a waste of money


Tamiflu makers 'have not provided clear picture of drug'

Dr Fiona Godley, editor in chief of the British Medical Journal, which published today's research questioning the efficacy of Tamiflu, told ITV News that manufacturer Roche has "not provided a clear picture of their drug".

Read: Use of anti-flu medicine Tamiflu 'should be reviewed'

The pharmaceutical company "have an irreducible conflict of interest - they perform the studies," she added.

Roche said it disagreed with the "overall conclusions" of the report.

Welsh Govt 'expect waiting times to come down'

The Welsh Government said they "expect waiting times for diagnostic tests to come down" after NHS statistics showed Wales was the worst-performing country in the UK in that area.

Despite the pressures on the NHS, access to diagnostic tests is improving.

However, the health minister Mark Drakeford acknowledges waits are still too long in some cases, and last month announced £5 million of new funding to help the NHS reduce waiting times for those scans and tests where there are particular challenges.

Speeding up access to these tests will mean that patients get the results faster and can start their full treatment sooner. We expect waiting times for diagnostic tests to come down.

– Welsh Government spokeswoman

Read: Wales has worst waiting times for NHS tests in UK

Govt: Tamiflu has 'proven record of safety & quality'

Both the Department of Health and pharmaceutical company Roche have defended the anti-flu drug Tamiflu after research questioned the efficacy of the drug.

Tamiflu has been defended by the Department of Health. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Archive

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "The UK is recognised by the World Health Organisation as being one of the best prepared countries in the world for a potential flu pandemic. Our stockpile of antivirals is a key part of this.

"Tamiflu is licensed around the world for the treatment of seasonal flu and is a licensed product with a proven record of safety, quality and efficacy. We regularly review all published data and will consider the Cochrane review closely."

Meanwhile, UK medical director Dr Daniel Thurley at manufacturers Roche said: "We disagree with the overall conclusions of this report.

"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."

Read: Use of anti-flu medicine Tamiflu 'should be reviewed'

Plaid Cymru: Stats show Labour's NHS mismanagement

Elin Jones, Plaid Cymru health spokeswoman, said the figures showing that Wales has high waiting list times for life-saving tests highlighted "the stark reality of Labour's mismanagement of the NHS".

The Health Minister needs to take emergency action to bring down these waiting lists and help the thousands of people who are in limbo as they await a diagnosis. We need to make sure that the diagnostic machines are staffed for longer so that they can be used to their capacity.

This will need extra funding, but failure to do so would be condemning patients to wait even longer for basic tests.

Plaid Cymru has long advocated better planning within the NHS so we can plan ahead for the future workforce, keep waiting lists down and make the Welsh NHS the efficient service that it can be.

– Plaid Cymru health spokeswoman and Ceredigion Assembly Member Elin Jones

Read: Wales has worst waiting times for NHS tests in UK


Wales waiting time statistics 'most disturbing in years'

NHS statistics which show that Wales has the worst waiting times for life-saving tests in the UK are "the most disturbing" health figures seen "in many years", a doctor said.

Carmarthen-based doctor Dewi Evans, who has been working in the health service since 1971, said early diagnostic tests were important because they could be a matter of life and death.

Read: Wales has worst waiting times for NHS tests in UK

The checks - such as MRI scans and cystoscopies - can be used by medics to check whether a person has cancer.

These investigations are the mainstay of early and accurate diagnoses of life-threatening conditions.

In terms of significance, these are the most disturbing NHS statistics I have seen in many years. Diagnostic tests are one of the most important parts of the health service.

– Dr Dewi Evans

Govt 'may have wasted millions' on stockpiling Tamiflu

The Government could have wasted hundreds of millions of pounds stockpiling anti-flu drug Tamiflu after the concerns surrounding bird flu several years ago, scientists said.

A man holds a box of the anti-viral drug, Tamiflu. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive

The Department of Health began accumulating the drug in 2006 in response to the disease and official estimates suggest ministers may have spent £424 million backing up supplies of Tamiflu.

A spokeswoman from the British Medical Journal, who co-authored the study with The Cochrane Collaboration, questioned whether the Government would stockpile the drug with hindsight.

"The BMJ and Cochrane issue a joint call to government and health policy decision makers the world over, asking in light of the latest findings from the Cochrane Review, would you make the same recommendations today, choosing to stockpile Tamiflu?" she said.

Read: Use of anti-flu medicine Tamiflu 'should be reviewed'

Use of anti-flu medicine Tamiflu 'should be reviewed'

A widely used anti-flu medication should be reviewed by ministers, scientists said after new research questioned the efficacy of the drug.

Widely used anti-flu medication Tamiflu should be reviewed. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Archive

Tamiflu, which is used to prevent and treat influenza, shortens flu symptoms by between a day and half a day, the study suggested.

However, the authors said there is "no good evidence" to support claims the drug reduces flu-related hospital admissions or the complications of influenza.

Taking the drug could increase a person's risk of nausea and vomiting, researchers from The Cochrane Collaboration and the British Medical Journal also claimed.

And when used as a preventative treatment it can stop people developing flu symptoms but may not prevent them from spreading flu to others, the authors said.

Wales has worst waiting times for NHS tests in UK

Wales has the worst waiting times record for life-saving tests in the UK, according to new figures.

Wales has the worst waiting times record for life-saving tests. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Around 42% of people in Wales waiting for diagnostic tests had to wait more than six weeks before they were finally seen, according to government statistics.

This compares with 1.8% in England and 3.8% in Scotland.

And the statistics also show 16.6% of patients on the Welsh diagnostic waiting list wait longer than 12 weeks.

In Northern Ireland, 15.5% on the list had to wait more than nine weeks.

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