Lots of reporting & CDC criticism in BMJ piece on antiviral drug Tamiflu

There are all sorts of evidentiary questions swirling around the use of the antiviral drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu).  And then there is the politics – if that’s what you can call the statements and actions of federal agencies about the drug.

Jeanne Lenzer has a new feature in The BMJ, “Why aren’t the US Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration speaking with one voice on flu?

A dozen different sources are quoted in the piece.

Lenzer frames the piece this way:

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched an ambitious campaign urging people to take an antiviral drug for flu if one is prescribed by a doctor, saying that it could “save lives.” The claim is at the center of a heated controversy.

The Food and Drug Administration told The BMJ that data submitted to it for review do not support the claim that the neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir (marketed by Genentech and Roche as Tamiflu) “saves lives.” The FDA said that oseltamivir “has not been proven to have a positive impact on the potential consequences (such as hospitalizations, mortality, or economic impact) of seasonal, avian, or pandemic influenza.”

Some of the people interviewed for the piece say that:

  • comments by CDC director Thomas Frieden  are “highly irresponsible…the evidence is poor; the clinical effect, if there is one, marginal.”
  • “The CDC’s message sounds more emotional than scientific.”
  • “Financial dealings with biopharmaceutical companies threaten (the CDC’s) reputation.”

Many news organizations have been unquestioning and so, uncritical,  about some of the claims made for the use of Tamiflu – topic of a future blog post.


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Comments (1)

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Paul Giannone

February 20, 2015 at 3:17 pm

The reason CDC is having this problem is they have displaced science with ego and power. Please see my comments on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PO5T-IiFbdw and