- James Smith, international medical leader, Tamiflu1
- on behalf of Roche
- 1F Hoffmann-La Roche, CH-4070 Basel, Switzerland
Below is a point-by-point response to the questions and allegations raised by the BMJ [questions from the BMJ are in italics].
1. The Cochrane Review
We have been closely following the efforts of the Cochrane Collaboration to update its review on: ‘Neuraminidase inhibitors for preventing and treating influenza in healthy adults. A systematic review and meta-analysis’. This update will be published in the BMJ on 8th December 2009.
As part of its investigations, the Cochrane Review sought to examine in detail Professor Laurent Kaiser’s paper, ‘Kaiser L, Wat C, Mills T, Mahoney P, Ward P, Hayden F. Impact of oseltamivir treatment on influenza-related lower respiratory tract complications and hospitalizations. Arch. Intern. Med. 2003 Jul 28;163(14):1667-1672.’ - which has been extensively cited, by Roche and public health authorities, as evidence for the effectiveness of Tamiflu in reducing hospitalisations. As publishers of the review, the BMJ has been in close contact with the Cochrane Review team. In a linked feature, we intend to report on the following matters: a. that the Cochrane Review team was unable to obtain access to the complete data sets of the 10 RCTs which the Kaiser 2003 paper meta-analysed (8 of which have not been fully published in peer-reviewed journals).
Response: In addressing the issue of access to data, we note that, according to our records, Roche was initially approached with a request for data on 9 September 2009 by Philip Carter from ITN regarding a Channel 4 news request, and not the Cochrane review team itself. We believe this is in conflict with accepted standard practice: the merits of scientific studies, and debate relating to them, are of course to …