Flu symptoms are nasty. The fever, coughing, sore throat, ugh, makes for a miserable feeling. 1 way to treat your flu and to reduce your symptoms is to use an FDA-approved antiviral drug recommended by the CDC, called Tamiflu. By taking this medication according to the CDC it can lessen your flu symptoms by 1 to 2 days.
But according to recent reports, the effectiveness and safety of Tamiflu is being questioned by some doctors.
Based a Bloomberg report, the research firm Cochrane Collaboration was commissioned by the U.K. National Institute for Health Research to investigate the perceived benefits to taking Tamiflu and any potential side effects to the drug, and now Doctors are questioning the effectiveness and safety of the main drug used to treat pandemic flu.
International experts said Tamiflu cuts the duration of symptoms, but they found no clear evidence that it reduced the number of patients needing hospital treatment.
They also claim that side effects from the drug were “possibly underreported.”
The drug maker, Swiss-based Roche Pharmaceuticals denies the allegations.
The doctors at the Cochrane Collaboration assessed 16,000 pages of clinical trial data and said there were “critical questions about how well the drug works and about its reported safety profile.”
Researcher Carl Heneghan said, “What you are looking at in any drug is, what are the benefits and what are the harms? Right now, without access to the evidence, we are not in a position to say the benefits clearly outweigh the harms.”
The Cochrane researchers claim that data from 60 percent of people involved in phase III clinical trials was never published.
But Roche insisted that 80 percent of clinical data is open to independent researchers and that it is working to make the rest publicly available.
Comparing the published and unpublished reports, Cochrane researchers noted glaring differences in the information, specifically related to the potential side effects of taking Tamiflu. According to the Bloomberg report, “one published trial listed no drug-related serious side effects, while the unpublished version listed three …”
“We are concerned that these data remain unavailable for scrutiny by the scientific community,” the doctors said.
“Roche stands behind the robustness and integrity of our data supporting the efficacy and safety of Tamiflu. Numerous clinical studies — and real-life medical experience — show Tamiflu is effective in reducing the severity and duration of symptoms,” the company said in a statement.
The research notes that people taking Tamiflu generally feel better one day quicker than those not taking the drug after first experiencing symptoms of influenza. The effectiveness of it reducing the symptoms of the flu by nearly a day are not questioned by the researchers.
The Cochrane report was published in British Medical Journal. Journal editors told Bloomberg they “remain to be convinced” of the value of Tamiflu specifically in reducing the length of flu-like symptoms. BMJ believes the public should have unlimited access to any clinical data collected on Tamiflu before deciding whether it is an effective treatment of influenza.