New Review Questions Effectiveness of Tamiflu

Hannah Johnston/Getty Images(OXFORD, England) -- Could Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) be not as effective as originally reported? The efficacy and safety of the drug, known as the most widely used medication against the influenza virus, has been questioned in a report published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers at the Cochrane Collaboration found that evidence supporting the use of Tamiflu is flawed and say that Roche -- the company that manufactures Tamiflu -- is withholding important data from independent reviewers and government agencies.

According to a BMJ release, researchers at Cochrane attempted to test Roche's claims that Tamiflu could prevent complications from influenza and reduce the number of patients needing hospital treatment. Their trials were hindered, however, when Roche refused to release its own complete trial data for analysis.  Reports from European Medicines Agency (EMA) were available to investigators, but presented "inconsistencies," the BMJ release stated.

More than 70 governments have placed orders for Tamiflu, with at least 220 million treatment courses stockpiled since 2003, according to the CDC.  Roche has reportedly pocketed $3.4 billion from sales of the medication.

Amid the questions raised about the Tamiflu maker's willingness to make data public for review, Roche maintains they have given Cochrane all the information needed to conduct a substantial evaluation. But one Cochrane investigator says this is not the case.

"In the BMJ in December 2009, Roche promised full study reports to any legitimate investigators," said Dr. Peter Doshi of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "They have not provided a single full study report to Cochrane, despite our repeated requests."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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