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Doctors query ability of Tamiflu to stop severe illness

Review published in British Medical Journal accuses flu drug manufacturer Roche of withholding evidence from trials

Tamiflu tablets may shorten bouts of illness by a day or two, reviewers say.

Roche, the manufacturer of Tamiflu, has made it impossible for scientists to assess how well the anti-flu drug stockpiled around the globe works by withholding the evidence the company has gained from trials, doctors alleged today .

www.guardian.co.uk_Tamiflu tablets_Tamiflu-tablets-002A major review of what data there is in the public domain has found no evidence Tamiflu can prevent healthy people with flu from suffering complications such as pneumonia.

Tamiflu may shorten the bout of illness by a day or so, the investigators say, but it is impossible to know whether it prevents severe disease because the published data is insufficient. Roche has failed to make some of the studies carried out on the drug publicly available, the scientists say.

“Governments around the world have spent billions of pounds on a drug that the scientific community now finds itself unable to judge,” said Dr Fiona Godlee, editor of the British Medical Journal, which published the new review online and collaborated in a joint investigation with Channel 4 News, shown this evening .

Roche has made a fortune out of the drug, with sales of £1.6bn this year alone. The British government has stockpiled enough for half the population.

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