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Side effects and effectiveness of wonder-drug Tamiflu under the microscope as Department of Health faces awkward questions over mass prescriptions

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Implicit Location : United States

Side effects and effectiveness of 'wonder-drug' Tamiflu under the microscope as Department of Health faces awkward questions over mass prescriptions

Health officials are to face questions about whether they prescribed Tamiflu on a mass scale too quickly in the wake of the 2009 swine flu outbreak.

A two-year review into the widely prescribed drug will reveal findings about the effectiveness and side-effects of the swine flu 'wonder-drug'.

The conclusions made by the Cochrane Collaboration could pose uncomfortable questions for the Department of Health as to whether they rushed into mass prescriptions of Tamiflu when swine flu hit the nation in 2009.

Tamiflu was prescribed on a mass scale in 2009 following the nationwide outbreak of swineflu

As well as questioning issues surrounding Tamiflu, researchers behind the review also claimed the makers of the drug refused to hand over raw data to help them with their appraisal.

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche claimed Tamiflu reduced the number of patients who needed to be hospitalised after becoming infected with swine flu.

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The comprehensive appraisal by Cochrane, a non-profit group who analyse medical evidence through results from the world's best medical research studies, aims to challenge Roche's claim when its findings are released tomorrow.

Cochrane Collaboration founder Sir Iain Chalmers said Tamiflu makers Roche 'refused to provide data'

The Cochrane Collaboration, considered by experts to be the 'gold standard' of medical evidence, also reported problems obtaining data from Roche back in 2009.

Professor Sir Iain Chalmers, a founder of the Cochrane Collaboration, told The Bureau of Investigative Journalism: 'We have invested millions of pounds on stockpiling Tamiflu on the basis of a paper that presented the results of 12 trials, only two of which have been published.

'The investigation... shows Roche refused to provide data to evaluate these trials.

'Investigators got some data through the European Medicines Agency, but this doesn't answer all of the questions they have.'

He added: 'It is a disgrace that Roche have not provided this data.'

Roche responded by saying it has provided Cochrane with access to 3,200 pages of detailed information as part of their review.

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