U.S. spent billions spent on ineffective flu drug, study says

Tamiflu is shown in Kiel, Germany, in this Oct. 24, 2005, file photo The Tamiflu antiviral drug is seen as the most effective medical defense against the human form of bird flu. Iowa health officials have asked for more than $4.8 million to buy hundreds of thousands of courses of antiviral drugs to be used in the event of an influenza pandemic, Gov. Tom Vilsack said Monday, July 31, 2006. (AP Photo/Heribert Proepper)

Tamiflu is shown in Kiel, Germany, in this Oct. 24, 2005, file photo The Tamiflu antiviral drug is seen as the most effective medical defense against the human form of bird flu. Iowa health officials have asked for more than $4.8 million to buy hundreds of thousands of courses of antiviral drugs to be used in the event of an influenza pandemic, Gov. Tom Vilsack said Monday, July 31, 2006. (AP Photo/Heribert Proepper)

The flu kills people.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates 3,000 to 49,000 people die annually from some form of the influenza virus.

In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed 50 million people, more than three times as many as died during the five years of World War I. Most of the deaths occurred in Europe, but more than 600,000 died in the U.S.

The Spanish Flu virus was global. Only one place, a small island in the Amazon River, was untouched by it.

When 3 to 5 percent of humanity dies, people get scared. And, governments start spending money to try and prevent such a thing from ever happening again.

The U.S. has spent billions on a flu drug that does nothing to save lives or prevent the spread of the flu, reports the BBC.

A study conducted by the non-profit Cochrane Collaboration says Tamiflu, the trade name for the antiviral drug Oseltamivir, only slightly reduced the amount of time flu sufferers experienced symptoms.

Scientists involved in the study say Tamiflu’s side effects — nausea, headaches, psychiatric events, kidney problems and hyperglycaemia — make it more hazardous than helpful.

Eight children who took the drug in Japan ended up committing suicide after suffering psychotic episodes, reports The Telegraph.

“I think the [money spent on Tamiflu] has not benefited human health in any way and we may have harmed people,” said Carl Heneghan, professor of Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University.

The company that makes Tamiflu, Roche, said, “We disagree with the overall conclusions. ” The Swiss drug manufacturer warned that not stockpiling Tamiflu could “potentially have serious public health implications.”

The only benefit the Cochrane study found from taking Tamiflu was a reduction in the time patients experienced flu symptoms. Adult’s symptoms were reduced from 7 days to 6.3 days, children’s to 5.8 days, says the BBC report.

Wendy Barclay, who researches the influenza virus at Imperial College London, said reducing symptoms in children would be “pretty beneficial.”

Cochrane researchers said another drug, acetaminophen (aka Tylenol), is just as effective at reducing symptoms.

How much as been spent on Tamiflu? Over $1.3 billion has been spent recently, but billions more have been spent since 2005, when a bird flu outbreak in Asia got the world’s attention.

That year, the World Health Organization said bird flu could kill 150 million people.

U.S. politicians turned to Tamiflu, which had been introduced in 1999 but had never had huge sales.

In 2005, the U.S.scrambled to hoard millions of doses of the drug that were never used.

Conspiracy theorists like to point out that former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once served as the chairman of the U.S. company that licensed Tamiflu’s chemical recipe to Roche, and saw his personal wealth soar during the alleged crisis.

In 2005, the U.S. defense department spent $58 million on Tamiflu in just one month.

Since 2003, only 385 people on Earth have died from any strain of bird flu, reports CNN.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t need more drugs. I suggest a daily vitamin.

More news from the morning web:


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Legolas

April 10th, 2014
1:33 pm

All that after FDA approval and many drug studies. Chicken soup prevails as the number one non-FDA approved approved drug to alleviate the symptoms of the common cold virus with the fewest known side effects after wide common consumption in non-approved studies.

I prefer the campbells brand chicken noodle, but, due to widespread variants of chicken noodle soup the prices have fallen to very affordable alternatives with similar positive results. If it works why argue about FDA approval?

Dr. Strange

April 10th, 2014
1:44 pm

Americans will pay anything for a Fda approved shot in the arse!

Bumper

April 10th, 2014
1:57 pm

Instead of taking Tamiflu after the fact to treat the symptoms just get an annual flu shot. I’m a believer, no flu during the many years I’ve done the shots.

Nancy

April 10th, 2014
2:07 pm

This topic’s not exactly flying off the shelves, eh George?

Maybe you should replace it with one on Eric Holder’s BIZARRE meltdown Tuesday before a House committee looking into the Justice Department’s refusal to investigate the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.

BurntGrassroot

April 10th, 2014
3:57 pm

Let me get this right. Assume the CDC is correct that annually 3,000 to 49,000 people die of various influenzas, and since 2003, three hundred eighty-five (385) people have died of bird flu. How many people died of bird flu each year since 2003, a period of eleven years? In that time period, what flu strain killed the most people? Why didn’t we prepare with doses of vaccine for that flu strain? Since Tamiflu did not meet expectations, how do we the people go about getting a refund?

The scientific (empirical) method requires two things to either prove or disprove an assumption (hypothesis): 1) the hypothesis is observable, 2) the hypothesis is repeatable. I’m sure there’s more to this flu issue, but what I get from the article is that educated observers either missed or ignored the fact that the data disproved the hypothesis that the bird flu strain was pandemic.

It’s outrageous that scientists and other professionals can rest on their laurels, bilk the public, or betray the trust of peers, colleagues and the public repeatedly and without consequence. A post-graduate degree should enable one to actually do a job, not just get a job. And the performance of that job should be the determinant of whether one keeps that job.

xxx

April 10th, 2014
4:30 pm

I’ve had the flu with and without taking Tamiflu, , if taken within the first 24 hours, the difference is huge.

Bernie31

April 11th, 2014
9:12 am

Yes Love some ERIC HOLDER, The Brother almost told them how and what he really feels about the Republican Racist Behavior. He with held his Tongue and I am Glad…For they or You really do not want to know!

Hidden Agenda

April 12th, 2014
10:55 am

There is a clear revolving door/conspiracy between the FDA, CDC, and the pharmaceutical companies. You can find out all of the names and their jobs quite easily on the internet. Its all public record. The media, and the CDC promote the fear and the pharmaceutical companies rake in the profits. No better example can be seen than the annual flu scares and the non-pandemic of the bird and swine flues a couple of years back. American consumers need to stop falling for these government lies. All government does is lie. Time to face this truth.