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Does Tamiflu work?

A new analysis is questioning the value of the widely used antiviral drug Tamiflu for treating the flu.

Chris Del Mar of Bond University in Australia led a team of researchers that updated the widely respected Cochrane Collaboration's 2005 evaluation of the effectiveness of Tamiflu and other so-called neuraminidase inhibitors by compiling data from 20 studies that have examined the drugs.

The analysis, published online by the British medical journal BMJ, concludes that the available evidence indicates that the drugs have a "modest effectiveness" against the symptoms of the flu in otherwise healthy adults -- cutting symptoms by about a day. But the group concluded a "paucity of good data has undermined previous findings" suggesting Tamiflu could prevent severe complications from the flu. In an accompanying paper, Nick Fremantle and Melanie Calvert from the University of Birmingham reviewed additional studies and concluded the drug may reduce the risk of pneumonia in otherwise healthy people who get the flu, but the benefit is probably very small and needs to be weighed against potential side effects.

In an article accompanying the analysis, a researcher involved in the analysis criticizes Roche, the company that makes Tamiflu, for failing to provide details about studies that have been conducted to evaluate the drug. Peter Doshi of the Massachusetts Institute of Techology argues that the case illustrates the problems involved when pharmacecutical companies conduct medical research. Fiona Godlee, the journal's editor, notes that governments have spent billions of dollars to stockpile the drug to fight flu pandemics like the H1N1 pandemic and are unable to judge its effectiveness.

In responses to the analysis and to questions from the journal, James Smith from Roche defended the drug's effectiveness, saying studies had clearly demonstrated the safety and usefulness of the drug and argued that government regulatory agencies have full access to all the company's data.

By Rob Stein  |  December 9, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Health Policy , Influenza  
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We have been subjected for months, particularly in publications such as the "Guardian", and in blogs and elsewhere, to articles about how the "evidence" for Homeopathy is supposedly insufficient even though, just like tamiflu, there is a Cochrane database article supporting it for lessening the severity of the flu. Widespread ridicule against one of the Homeopathic remedies for flu, Oscillococcinum, persisted despite studies showing that it did in fact, reduce the duration and severity of the flu though it had no effect on prophylaxis.

We now see one positive, and probably undesired by their instigators, result of the irrational attacks against Homeopathy and alternative medicine - people are starting to question the "evidence" for standard pharmaceutical drugs for which, in point of fact, once you get past all the "marketing" and unreleased "studies", often have no better "evidence" than the Homeopathic products.

But since they have similar evidentiary backgrounds, the Homeopathic products have the added advantage of being far safer. The frequent attempt to smear Homeopathy remedies by claiming that there is "nothing" in them, fails in the light of high dilution research indicating that such high dilutions do indeed stimulate biological effects leaving open the possibility of a scientific theory. Not to mention that Homeopathy also uses lower dilutions effectively.

HERE is part of the answer as to what is wrecking our health care system.
Governments have spent billions of our dollars on things like Tamiflu and vaccines, in my opinion often rushing them into production without adequate long term safety studies - studies done by independent researchers doing real objective science and outside the reach of the tentacles of corporate influence.

Maybe it's time we started asking for the EVIDENCE for the common pharmaceutical products which have pontifically been sold to us as the "standard" and then deciding if the real EVIDENCE for them justifies the serious, life threatening and sometimes deadly consequences of using them.

And maybe, it's time to tell the junk journalists, armchair "sceptics", weekend "scientists", profiteering "debunker" and sceptic book authors that Complementary and Alternative Medicine is here to stay, is growing and when the real evidence starts getting published, will confirm that frequently it does as well as, or better, than the standard.

Posted by: James_Pannozzi | December 9, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

more news has come out that one of the largest of the 10 studies done by Roche shows that Tamiflu damages the heart. I would really like to know how many people and children in the H1N1 flu death columns were outright killed by Tamiflu. Countries were handing out this incredibly toxic drug like candy to be administered at home by parents. Journalists - we are relying on you. Wake up and ask the real questions - stop relying on the AP press releases - they are mostly generated by the pharma mafia itself.

Posted by: sarah130 | December 11, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I used Tamiflu for suspected H1N1. What can I say it's a really effective drug. My condition enhanced just in 2 days. I ordered online here

Posted by: SweetShady | December 13, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

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