It would be kind of sad to see the cameras crawl past towers of boxes stacked on top of boxes of expired Tamiflu, purchased at the height of the H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic scare a few years ago.
Of course, the hoarder in this case wouldn’t be some poor soul who can’t control his compulsions. No, this hoarder is the U.S. government.
In 2006, the U.S. spent $2 billion to purchase millions of Tamiflu doses in preparation for a pandemic that never came. And we weren’t alone. Other nations and governing bodies, including the European Union, did the same thing — as did countless doctors and patients.
And now, new evidence — or rather a very deliberate LACK of evidence — suggests that all these governments and individuals were completely swindled.
21st century snake oil
A couple of years ago, two people admitted they had been paid to ghostwrite some Tamiflu studies.
According to Discovery magazine, they were instructed to embed two key messages in their work: 1) Flu is a threat, and 2) Tamiflu is the answer to that threat.
This was devastating news to the Cochrane Collaboration.
As I’ve mentioned before, Cochrane is a non-profit, independent organization that does just one thing: they review health care research.
In a previous Tamiflu analysis, Cochrane researchers concluded that the drug might help some patients shorten the duration of the flu by about one day, while also cutting the risk of pneumonia and other flu complications.
That last part was a huge break for Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, because they could now make the claim that the drug might help prevent serious complications that would result from a genuine flu pandemic.
But the Cochrane research was later challenged because some of the studies in the analysis hadn’t been published. So Cochrane reopened their investigation and asked Roche to provide all the raw data.
Roche gave them some of it, but not all. Cochrane pressed them. Roche resisted. And according to the researchers, to this day, the company still has not turned over the complete set of study data to Cochrane, although Roche claims they’ve turned over enough data to answer Cochrane’s questions.
And then the ghostwriting scandal surfaced and all those previous conclusions went out the window.
Two more Cochrane reviews — one in 2009 and one released last month — note that Roche STILL stonewalls the complete data. So based on the limited research they’ve been able to see, Cochrane now says there’s no proof that Tamiflu reduces flu complications like pneumonia and death.
As one researcher told MedPage Today, any country that purchases stockpiles of Tamiflu is doing so without the benefit of trustworthy data. He says, “They’re taking the drug manufacturer’s word at face value.”
And you and I both know what a drug maker’s “word” is worth.
But there’s one more smoking gun here, and I can’t believe it’s being mostly ignored.
MedPage Today reports that Cochrane’s analysis showed that in “many trials” the placebo contained two chemicals that weren’t even in the Tamiflu capsules. What’s more, Roche has disregarded requests for complete information about placebo content.
Now THAT is astounding!
That’s not just a smoking gun, that’s a smoking gun that shot the elephant in the room!
It’s preposterous! If placebos contain elements that aren’t present in the drug being studied, that looks a lot like someone took steps to make sure the outcomes of the studies weren’t left to chance.
When you’ve discovered a placebo that’s not a placebo, and combine that with a couple of ghostwriters instructed to put a pro-Tamiflu spin on study results, then add in Roche’s refusal to release data, you have the beginnings of a reality show that even the makers of “Survivor” couldn’t have come up with.
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
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