In what could be a major setback for drugmakers Hoffmann-La Roche and GlaxoSmithKline, their medicines namely Tamiflu and Relenza respectively, are once again under scanner with the researchers doubting their credibility.
According to the researchers, the governments are wasting billions of dollars on the drugs whose effectiveness is in doubt.
During a review of trial data on Tamiflu and Relenza, scientists from Cochrane Review found that the medicines were only able to shorten the flu symptoms by around half a day but there is no tough evidence establishing the drugmakers’ claims that they cut hospital admissions or lessen complications of the disease.
The main findings of the clinical trial were that the medicines had very few beneficial effects but their adverse side effects were previously dismissed or overlooked.
Carl Heneghan, one of the lead investigators of the review, said, “There is no credible way these drugs could prevent a pandemic. Remember, the idea of a drug is that the benefits should exceed the harms. So if you can’t find any benefits, that accentuates the harms.”
Heneghan is a professor of evidence-based medicine at Britain’s Oxford University.
Recently, the Swiss drugmaker Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd has conducted a study on its drug Tamiflu to establish the scientific evidences in the role played by the antiviral medicine in saving lives of people affected during the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic.
The US government has spent more than USD 1.3 billion on buying a strategic reserve of antiviral drugs including Tamiflu,. On the other hand, the British government has spent almost 424 million pounds (USD 703 million) on a stockpile of some 40 million Tamiflu doses.