Tamiflu & Relenza: How effective are they?
Experts call on government and health policy decision makers to review guidance on use of Tamiflu in light of the most recent evidence. Tamiflu (the antiviral drug oseltamivir) shortens symptoms of influenza by half a day, but there is no good evidence to support claims that it reduces admissions to hospital or complications of influenza.
Tamiflu (the antiviral drug oseltamivir) shortens symptoms of influenza by half a day, but there is no good evidence to support claims that it reduces admissions to hospital or complications of influenza. This is according to the updated Cochrane evidence review, published today by The Cochrane Collaboration, the independent, global healthcare research network and The BMJ. Evidence from treatment trials confirms increased risk of suffering from nausea and vomiting. And when Tamiflu was used in prevention trials there was an increased risk of headaches, psychiatric disturbances, and renal events. Although when used as a preventative treatment, the drug can reduce the risk of people suffering symptomatic influenza, it is unproven that it can stop people carrying the influenza virus and spreading it to others.The latest updated Cochrane Review: Neuraminidase inhibitors for preventing and treating influenza in healthy adults and children, is based on full internal reports of 20 Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and 26 Relenza (zanamivir) trials. These trials involved more than 24,000 people and the findings challenge the historical assumption that neuraminidase inhibitors are effective in combating influenza. The evidence also suggests there are insufficient grounds to support the use of Tamiflu in preventing person-to-person spread of influenza. This raises further questions about the most effective way to support drug regulation and public health policy decision-making. Claims about the effectiveness of Tamiflu against complications were a key factor in decisions made by governments around the world to stockpile these drugs in case of a pandemic. The US has spent more than $1.3 billion buying a strategic reserve of antivirals, while in the UK the government has spent almost 424 million for a stockpile of about 40 million doses.In 2009, a lack of access to available trial data hampered the efforts of the Cochrane researchers to verify the safety and effectiveness of Tamiflu — and led to questions over decisions to stockpile the drug while the risks and benefits remained uncertain. …
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