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Review raises questions over Swine Flu drug

December 9 2009

Review raises questions over Swine Flu drug

10 hours 7 mins ago (9 de diciembre del 2009)

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/4/20091209/tuk-review-raises-questions-over-swine-f-dba1618.html

ITN

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The effectiveness of the swine flu antiviral Tamiflu was being questioned today amid disarray over government plans to inoculate more than three million young children against the bug.

Research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found the antiviral could cut the length of time people have symptoms by about a day, but said there was no clear evidence that it prevented complications like pneumonia.

It comes after the Government and GPs failed to reach an agreement on the swine flu vaccination programme for under-fives, with health visitors and district nurses now set to be asked by local NHS managers to step in.

The BMJ research has questioned the validity of research from Roche, the pharmaceutical giant that makes Tamiflu.

More than a million courses of antivirals including Tamiflu have been given out to people across Britain since the start of the swine flu pandemic.

A review of 20 existing studies was carried out by a team led by experts from the Cochrane Collaboration, which last reviewed the evidence in 2005 and their updated study found Tamiflu "did not reduce influenza-related lower respiratory tract complications".

Tamiflu was effective in treating people preventatively after they had come into contact with somebody who was infected, and shortened the length of symptoms in those with swine flu, it was found.

But the study criticised some of the evidence available and said Roche had not been able to "unconditionally" provide the information needed.

As a result, the team dropped eight trials that were included in their earlier review because they were unable to independently verify the findings.

Writing in the BMJ, they concluded: "Paucity of good data has undermined previous findings for oseltamivir's (Tamiflu's) prevention of complications from influenza."

Dr Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the BMJ, said: "Governments around the world have spent billions of pounds on a drug that the scientific community now finds itself unable to judge."

Under the Government's mass vaccination programme, GPs have been receiving £5.25 per patient for at-risk groups, including people with asthma, diabetes or heart disease, plus a relaxation on some of their requirements under the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF).

Ministers had offered doctors £5.25 per dose plus a "small concession" to vaccinate the next group - healthy children aged from six months to five.

But the two sides were unable come to an agreement yesterday, and ministers said they have asked local primary care trusts (PCTs) to put local plans into place to vaccinate the group, comprising more than three million healthy children under five across the UK.

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