Government should 'review use of anti-flu drug Tamiflu'

Ministers should review the use of a widely used anti-flu medication, scientists have said after new research has questioned the efficacy of the drug. The Government may have wasted hundreds of millions on stockpiling Tamiflu, the report added.

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Roche: Stockpiling of Tamiflu is essential

Roche's UK Medical Director Dr Daniel Thurley told ITV News that stockpiling of Tamiflu, which is manufactured by the company is "essential".

Following criticism of the Government's £424 million spend on the anti-flu drug in today's report questioning the efficacy of the drug, Dr Thurley said it was "entirely responsible for the Government to make sure there's provision to protect vulnerable people in our society."


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.

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".

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

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."


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.

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.

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