Tamiflu, developed to combat influenza, is derived from star anise, a weak natural anti-viral. Roche chemicalized it so it could be patented, and performed trials that didn't go as Roche would have hoped. Tamiflu did not show efficacy. What to do? In an ethical lapse, Roche did not consult their WWJD bracelets.
Roche fudged the data to claim that Tamiflu reduced hospitalizations, deaths, and serious complications from influenza. I even heard some friends claim that Tamiflu stopped their flu-like illness - they heard they'd have one less day of fever - and they believed it. I was highly skeptical, and I was right. They were experiencing a placebo effect.
What kills me is that doctors prescribed a drug to my friends that is not benign. In a Japanese study and in another conducted among children in Britain, half the subjects reported side effects ranging from the severe gastrointestinal to the psychological, such as delerium, and even suicide. Tamiflu has also been found to increase likelihood of secondary bacterial infections, one of the main causes of death in influenza.
What happened? An independent researcher found discrepancies in the Roche data he'd used to draw favorable conclusions in his Cochrane Collaboration meta-analyses. Wanting to discover the reason for the discrepancies, he pushed Roche to release raw data from their trials - something Cochrane evaluators had not had access to in their initial reviews. Instead of producing the data as requested, Roche, ahem, had "lost" the original data. In an Atlantic Monthy Tamiflu expose, the author wrote: "the Cochrane team eventually concluded that the evidence that Tamiflu reduces complications, hospitalizations, or deaths is weak at best, and if the drug does offer any benefit, it is slight indeed."
British Medical Journal investigation concludes:
Neuraminidase inhibitors [Tamiflu] have modest effectiveness against the symptoms of influenza in otherwise healthy adults. The drugs are effective postexposure against laboratory confirmed influenza, but this is a small component of influenza-like illness, so for this outcome neuraminidase inhibitors are not effective. Neuraminidase inhibitors might be regarded as optional for reducing the symptoms of seasonal influenza. Paucity of good data has undermined previous findings for oseltamivir’s prevention of complications from influenza. Independent randomised trials to resolve these uncertainties are needed.Aren't you glad $1.5 Billion of your tax dollars funded the government stockpiling of Tamiflu? [Note heavy sarcasm.]
Remember there are many great natural antivirals that do work and that are safe. If you have yet to build your blood level of Vitamin D to optimal levels and happen to get a virus, Umcka is a great herbal anti-viral for both kids and adults. There is a plethora of other natural anti-virals, including: elderberry, garlic, echinacea, olive leaf extract, and monolaurin.
About the photo in this post: A couple years ago, I sat in a conference room talking to some Roche clinical trial researchers who looked and acted like Peter Seller's character, Dr. Strangelove (minus the wheelchair and random Nazi salutes.) I told myself, don't judge a book by its cover. Based on this new information about Roche's ethical transgressions, I should listen to my gut better, shouldn't I?