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Review Doubts Effectiveness of Roche's Tamiflu Drug, Manufacturer Says 'Research is Flawed'

Update Date: Apr 10, 2014 10:20 AM EDT
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After accessing the full data on Roche's flu medicine Tamiflu, researchers raised concerns regarding the effectiveness of the medicine in a recent review and said governments who stockpile it are wasting billions of dollars. 

In their review, researchers found that while the medicines shortened flu symptoms by around half a day, there were not enough reasons that backed the claims such as they cut hospital admissions or lessened complications of the disease, reported Reuters.

"There is no credible way these drugs could prevent a pandemic," said Carl Heneghan, one of the lead investigators of the review and a professor of evidence-based medicine at Britain's Oxford University, according to Reuters.

"Remember, the idea of a drug is that the benefits should exceed the harms," Heneghan said. "So if you can't find any benefits, that accentuates the harms."

The review highlighted the fact that the medicines had few if any beneficial effects but did have adverse side effects that were previously dismissed or overlooked. 

However, the manufacturer rejected the findings saying it "fundamentally disagrees with the overall conclusions" of their study. 

"We firmly stand by the quality and integrity of our data ... and subsequent real-world evidence demonstrating that Tamiflu is an effective medicine in the treatment and prevention of influenza," the company said in a statement.

The sales of Tamiflu hit almost $3 billion in 2009 due to its use in the H1N1 flu pandemic but they have since declined.

According to Reuters, the United States has spent more than $1.3 billion buying a strategic reserve of antivirals including Tamiflu, while the British government has spent almost 424 million pounds ($703 million) on a stockpile of some 40 million Tamiflu doses.

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