From: john on

Tamiflu? More Like Scamiflu: Tamiflu Should Not Be Used for Routine Control
of Flu

Despite Record Sales, Research on Drug's Effectiveness Is Incomplete

December 18, 2009
1:25 PM

CONTACT: Public Citizen
Phone: 202-588-1000

WASHINGTON - December 18 - Tamiflu, the anti-flu drug being snapped up in
record amounts, does not prevent serious complications from the flu and
should not be used for routine control of the flu in healthy adults, Public
Citizen said today.

In an article sent this week to online subscribers of,
Public Citizen called for an independent review of raw data from clinical
trials funded by Tamiflu's maker, Roche. The company has claimed that the
drug dramatically reduced hospital admissions as well as bronchitis and
pneumonia. But a recent investigation by the British Medical Journal and
British TV Channel 4 concluded that such claims were meritless.

In the wake of widespread media coverage of the H1N1 virus, Tamiflu sales
have skyrocketed. In October, 2.5 million prescriptions were filled in the
U.S. compared to just 35,000 prescriptions in October 2008. For the past 12
months, 6.8 million prescriptions were written, compared with 4.3 million
the previous 12 months.

"Tamiflu is being erroneously peddled as a panacea to flu," said Sidney
Wolfe, M.D., director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group. "In fact,
no research exists to support this in healthy adults. At best, it can
modestly reduce some minor flu systems in such people for a day."

All of the clinical research conducted to determine the effectiveness of
Tamiflu on healthy adults has been funded by the drug's manufacturer, Roche.
The British investigation involved a review of all published studies
examining the effects of Tamiflu in preventing serious complications of the
flu in otherwise healthy adults. The authors concluded that we "have no
confidence in claims that [Tamiflu] reduces the risk of complications and
hospital admission in people with influenza," and they wrote that it should
not be used in routine control of seasonal influenza. There was also concern
about underreporting of side effects of the drug.

Although the data available were gathered before the H1N1 virus made its
appearance, the results can probably be extrapolated to H1N1 because it is
another variety of flu, Wolfe said.

The article, "Tamiflu? More Like Scamiflu," is available free for seven days

Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization
founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive
branch and the courts.