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Yale’s Harlan Krumholz: 5 Things You Should Know On The Myth Of Tamiflu

Have you ever tried having a discussion of the evidence for Tamiflu with your doctor? (A physician-reader of our work has reminded me to use generic names whenever possible.  The generic name for Tamiflu is oseltamivir.)

Is this one of the top medical marketing success stories after, say, Lamisil (terbinafine) for toenail fungus?

On Forbes.com, Yale’s Harlan Krumholz delivers the kind of education you might not get from your own doc. You should read the entire piece, but here are the 5 things he felt readers should know:

1. The manufacturer of the drug sponsored all the trials and the reviewers found evidence of publication and reporting biases.

2. The studies did not show that Tamiflu (oseltamivir) reduced the risk of hospitalization.

3. The studies were inadequate to determine the effect of Tamiflu (oseltamivir) on complications.oseltamivir

4. The studies were inadequate to determine if Tamiflu (oseltamivir)  reduced transmission of the virus.

5. The use of Tamiflu (oseltamivir) did reduce the duration of symptoms by about a day.

He concludes:

“…reviewers felt that they needed access to more information to make firm conclusions about the drug. They asked Roche for full clinical study reports, with study protocols, the reporting analysis plan, the statistical analysis plan and individual patient data so that all they could more fully determine what could be concluded from the studies. Unfortunately, Roche has not complied.

People face decisions every day about this drug – and more than ever this season – so it would seem reasonable that the company would share all that they know about the drug.

Unfortunately the company has not complied. There remains substantial uncertainty about whether this drug is worth taking. Meanwhile, it is worth asking – why are they unwilling to share the information they have? And should doctors keep prescribing medicines when some potentially vital information is being kept out of view?

 

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