I never get flu shots — not because I'm lazy or have a blatant disregard for my health and the health of those around me, more because I just...don't. Preventative, blah blah. But maybe I'll reconsider: Tamiflu, the flu treatment included in a list of "essential medicines" by the World Health Organization and stocked by governments in case of global flu outbreak, is under fire from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) because there's "no evidence the drug can actually stop the flu." Dang.
Tamiflu is not the same as the flu shot; the flu shot is a vaccine whereas Tamiflu is taken when you actually come down with the flu. According to ABC News, the BMG is "asking the drug maker Roche to release all its data on Tamiflu, claiming there is no evidence the drug can actually stop the flu."
The BMJ and researchers at the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen requested the Tamiflu documents and data from Roche in 2009, but the company didn't comply. That did not go over well with the BMJ, as you can imagine. Tsk tsk, Roche.
For their part, Roche claims they released all the data they could, barring legal or confidentiality constraints. That's not enough for the BMJ.
"I suggest we boycott Roche's products until they publish missing Tamiflu data," wrote Peter Gotzsche, leader of the Nordic Cochrane Centre. He said governments should take legal action against Roche to get the money back that was "needlessly" spent on stockpiling Tamiflu.
According to ABC News, the CDC recommends Tamiflu as one of two medications for treating regular flu in the United States. However, since the Cochrane Centre scientists who were commissioned by Britain to evaluate flu drugs found no proof that Tamiflu reduced the number of influenza complications, that's kinda scary, right?
Because Tamiflu is known to have sometimes dangerous side effects, especially in kids, I'm interested to see what else comes of this story.