Drug maker Roche has been attacked by a leading medical journal for failing to provide unpublished data on its Tamiflu medicine, which some researchers believe has not been proven to work.
A researcher for the BMJ, Peter Gotzsche, who is also leader of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, said Roche products should be boycotted until they publish missing Tamiflu data, as an investigation into the drug found no evidence it actually works.
However, Tamiflu was last year included on a list of ‘essential medicines’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The drug has since been stockpiled by many governments and was used in the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
Gotzsche wrote in the journal; "I suggest we boycott Roche’s products until they publish missing Tamiflu data."
During a major investigation by the BMJ and Nordic Cochrane Centre in 2009, Roche agreed to make full clinical trial data for Tamiflu public, but the company has yet to do so.
The investigation, commissioned by the UK government into flu medicines, found no evidence Tamiflu reduced complications in people with influenza.
In a statement, Roche said it had complied with all legal requirements and provided 3,200 pages of information to answer any outstanding questions.
Roche added that it did not provide specific data requested to the scientists because they refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.
However, Gozsche said governments should sue Roche and request their money back.
Tamiflu is an anti-viral drug that slows the spread of influenza virus through cells.
The continued pressure on Roche is part of an ongoing call for drug companies to disclose drug trial data.
Twenty-eight health care professionals recently signed an open letter in The Times calling for pharmaceutical companies to release full clinical trial data on drugs that are currently used, so that healthcare professionals have open access.
Image: Tamiflu was included in a list of ‘essential medicines’ by the World Health Organisation in 2011. Photo: Courtesy of Moriori.