Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tamiflu & H1N1 flu (Swine flu)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends Tamiflu for prevention and treatment of swine flu. Tamiflu is the first neuraminidase inhibitor tablet for the treatment and prevention of influenza A and B. Tamiflu was approved by the US FDA for the treatment of influenza in October 1999 and for influenza prevention in November 2000.

The product, which was developed by Gilead Sciences, a US biopharmaceutical company (that discovers, develops and manufactures therapies for viral diseases and infectious diseases) is commercialized globally by Hoffmann-La Roche, a Swiss global health-care company that operates worldwide.

Notably, Donald Rumsfeld was chairman of the board of directors of Gilead company from 1997 until 2001, when he was appointed U.S. Secretary of Defense but he retained a huge shareholding.

The CDC website states, "CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these swine influenza viruses."

Researchers conducted a review of numerous studies of of anti-viral medications, which was then published in the prestigious medical journal Lancet on Jan. 19, 2006. As per this review of 51 randomized controlled trials, Tamiflu was useless against the avian flu and many other flus. Contrary to the CDC, their recommendation was not to use Tamiflu.

According to Roche Laboratories, the pharmaceutical company which owns exclusive distribution rights to the drug, Tamiflu has a shelf life of 48 months.

Stock prices of both the companies Roche and Gilead Sciences soared once the drug was recommended by the government as the best treatment. Gilead earns healthy royalties on every pack of Tamiflu.

Indeed what is lacking in the overall discussion about pandemic flu is disagreement, criticism, and skepticism from researchers willing to question and test the data on the efficacy of Tamiflu.

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