Some aspects of influenza pandemics can appear similar to seasonal influenza while other characteristics may be quite different. For example, both seasonal and pandemic influenza can cause infections in all age groups, and most cases will result in self-limited illness in which the person recovers fully without treatment. However, typical seasonal influenza causes most of its deaths among the elderly while other severe cases occur most commonly in people with a variety of medical conditions.
by Lizzie Bennett
The Cochrane Collaboration is a group of independent scientists and doctors who produce evidence based reports that are provided to healthcare decision makers around the world. They have come to the conclusion that Tamiflu and Relenza, the two drugs stockpiled for use in flu pandemics, are no better than acetaminophen for treating the condition.
The BMJ, British Medical Journal has backed Cochrane's findings and they have issued a joint news release that you can read in full here. The statement makes it quite clear that Roche hid the results of drug trials. From the statement by Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor-in-Chief,BMJ:
This review is the result of many years of struggles to access and use trial data, which was previously unpublished and even hidden from view. It highlights with certainty that future decisions to purchase and use drugs, particularly when on a mass scale, must be based on a complete picture of the evidence, both published and unpublished. We need the full data from clinical trials made available for all drugs in current use. With the new European Clinical Trials Directive bringing in rules for future drugs, it highlights the enormous challenge we face. We need the commitment of organisations and drug companies to make all data available, even if it means going back 20 years. Otherwise, we risk another knee-jerk reaction to a potential pandemic. And can we really afford it?” (my emphasis)
To put the study in a nutshell oseltamivir, Tamiflu, shortens the symptoms of influenza by a mere half a day and there is NO EVIDENCE at all that it reduces complications of influenza or hospitalizations from influenza.
In the UK alone $794m (£473m) has been spent stockpiling these drugs based on the information and research given out to governments worldwide by Roche. The Cochrane Collaboration, respected by the medical profession worldwide for their diligent approach and honest publication of results, both good and bad have found that Roche:
- Cherry picked which bits of data they were going to use and compiled this information into reports in order to sell the drug worldwide.
- Not only omitted data but actually buried it so deep it has taken years to dig out and look into.
- Conducted medical trials which were of very poor quality, and did not match the written reports of how the trials were conducted.
A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region; for instance a continent, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic. Further, flu pandemics exclude seasonal flu, unless the flu of the season is a pandemic. Throughout history there have been a number of pandemics, such as smallpox and tuberculosis. More recent pandemics include the HIV pandemic and the 2009 flu pandemic.