David Tovey

According to a report by the Cochrane Review on trials involving more than 24,000 people; Tamiflu does not reduce complications such as pneumonia, it doesn’t prevent the transmission of flu, and it has a number of adverse effects.

Dr David Tovey, Editor-in-Chief of The Cochrane Library, commented on the release of the updated Cochrane Review, “We now have the most robust, comprehensive review on neuraminidase inhibitors that exists. Initially thought to reduce hospitalisations and serious complications from influenza, the review highlights that neuraminidase inhibitors are (Nis) not proven to do this and it also seems to lead to harmful effects that were not fully reported in the original publications. This shows the importance of ensuring that trial data are transparent and accessible.”

Evidence from treatment trials confirms increased risk of suffering from nausea and vomiting.

When the drug was used for prevention the trial revealed there was an increased risk of headaches, psychiatric disturbances and renal events.

The review also found that compared with a placebo, or dummy pill, Tamiflu led to a quicker alleviation of flu-like symptoms of around half a day in adults, but the effect in children was more uncertain.

The worldwide use of Tamiflu has increased dramatically since the outbreak of H1N1 virus in April 2009 and has led to stock piling in a number of jurisdictions in anticipation of an influenza pandemic.

It was initially believed that it would reduce hospital admissions and complications of influenza. However, the original evidence presented to government agencies was incomplete. The Cochrane Review has benefited from access to more complete reports of the original research, now made available by the manufacturers, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline.

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