(October 31, 2012) The pharmaceutical giant Roche is being accused of irresponsibly withholding key trial data about a vital flu drug on which governments around the world have spent billions of pounds.
The anti-flu drug Tamiflu has been stockpiled by countries against the outbreak of a flu pandemic since 2004. The UK alone has spent 500 Million Pounds.
Yesterday, the British Medical Journal launched a campaign to persuade Roche to give doctors and patients the full data on Tamiflu, three years after doubts about its safety and efficacy emerged.
In 2009, researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration found that results of eight out of 10 key trials of Tamiflu were never fully published and concluded there was "insufficient data" to show it reduced complications -- a vital factor in a pandemic which could save lives.
Roche promised to release the full data, but then reneged on its promise, according to the BMJ. The journal's editor, Fiona Godlee, published an open letter to Sir John Bell, the Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and a board member of Roche, in which she appeals to him to use his influence to persuade the company to release the data "for independent scrutiny".