Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Want My Money Back!

As I am sitting home on a Tuesday morning (I have a bad cold) instead of seeing patients, I became incensed over the Big Pharma Cartel.  No longer will I refer to them as Big Pharma as they have crossed a line.  Big Pharma Cartel more accurately portrays what is going on these days. 

What am I so irritated about?  No, not my cold, as that will pass (though, I am not happy about that either). 

If I buy something that is falsely advertised, I would expect when I take the item back to the store, the store would give me my money back.  I would also assume the store would not be happy with the manufacturer of the product.  In fact, the store would probably not buy future products from that manufacturer if enough people were unhappy with that particular product. 

Who do I want my money back from?  Roche, the manufacturer of Tamiflu. By the spring of 2009, the U.S. government, MY government, OUR government bought 50 million doses of Tamiflu to combat the flu.   In fact, since 2005, the U.S. government spent over $1.5 billion dollars on Tamiflu.  Did we get our money worth for purchasing all that Tamiflu?

The Cochrane collaboration is an international not-for-profit and independent organization that produces systematic reviews of healthcare information.   I have found the Cochrane collaboration a very good source of information. 

 An article in the British Medical Journal (published 12.8.09--BMJ 2009;339:b5351) from the Cochrane group reviewed 20 studies on  the effectiveness of Tamiflu and other flu drugs at treating/preventing the flu.  Cochrane reported that the flu drugs have “modest effectiveness against the symptoms of influenza in otherwise healthy adults.”  However, they point out a “paucity of data” on these drugs.  Cochrane further reported that only five trials out of the 20 trials that were reviewed were judged to be of sufficient quality.  They  tried to locate the original data from these five trials by contacting the lead authors of the five trials.  However, the authors referred Cochrane to the manufacturer (Roche—Tamiflu).  Roche could not supply them with the data.  In fact, Roche “initially declined to provide the necessary data.”  Furthermore, an accompanying editorial at the British Medical Journal (BMJ) claimed the biggest trial of Tamiflu had an academic author named in the abstract. This author told the BMJ that he was not involved in the trial.  Sounds like ghost-writers are still at it for Big Pharma Cartel--see my earlier post in August, 2009 ( titled, “Fraud, Ghosts and Big Pharma”) about ghost writers. 

Why would Big Pharma Cartel not send them the data?  I am sure they don’t want to send the data because it either does not exist or is of such poor quality it would expose Tamiflu to being the fraud that it is.  Furthermore, all of the studies were co-authored by Roche employees and paid academic consultants.  The Cochrane reviewers could not find any independently funded trials of Tamiflu in healthy adults.   

So, where are we?  We, as U.S. citizens have spent billions of our dollars on a drug that, at best, decreases the duration of the flu for one day.  At worst, it doesn’t work at all and has been associated with a host of adverse effects.  The drug has never been shown to prevent deaths from the flu or prevent serious complications from the flu. More information about Tamiflu can be found in a previous post to my blog (4.29.09). 

This is total nonsense.  As consumers, we would not put up with spending our hard-earned money on falsely advertised products.  The U.S. government should investigate this and demand repayment from Big Pharma Cartel.  How can we trust them on health care if they can’t get this right?


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