Roche, the company that makes the drug Tamiflu, has been asked by a British medical journal to release all of the information about the drug because the journal claims that the drug does not stop the flu. Governments across the globe stockpile the drug in the event of a flu outbreak and it was used to fight the swine flu pandemic in 2009, according to the Associated Press.
A researcher affiliated with the BMJ journal called on governments in Europe to sue Roche.
“I suggest we boycott Roche’s products until they publish missing Tamiflu data,” Peter Gotzsche said. Gotzsche is the leader of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen. Gotzsche said that governments should sue in order to reacquire money that they spent on Tamiflu when stockpiling the drug.
The World Health Organization named Tamiflu in its list of ‘essential medicines’ in 2011. That list typically causes governments to purchase the drugs on it each year. The drug can be used to treat new flu viruses and seasonal flu viruses. Gregory Hartl, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, said, “We do have substantive evidence it can stop or hinder progression to severe disease like pneumonia.”
Tamiflu is recommended as one of two drugs in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when it comes to treating regular flu viruses. The second drug is that of Relenza from GlaxoSmithKline.
Roche was asked by researchers from the Nordic Cochrane Centre and the BMJ to release all of the data it had on Tamiflu in 2009. Scientists from the Cochrane Centre were asked by Britain to evaluate available flu drugs and those scientists discovered that there was no proof that Tamiflu decreased the amount of complications in people who have the flu.
“Despite a public promise to release (internal company reports) for each (Tamiflu) trial…Roche has stonewalled,” BMJ editor Fiona Godlee wrote in an editorial.
Roche claimed in a statement that it had complied with legal requirements for publishing its data and gave Gotzsche 3,200 pages of data. “Roche has made full clinical study data … available to national health authorities according to their various requirements, so they can conduct their own analyses,” the company said. The company also said that it does not release data regarding patients because of confidentiality issues and that the scientists would not sign a confidentiality form so they were not given patient data.
The company is also the center of an investigation by the European Medicines Agency for not reporting side effects for 19 of its drugs. One of those drugs included Tamiflu.