Letters BMJ’s open letter to Roche

European governments should sue Roche and prescribers should boycott its drugs

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e7689 (Published 13 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7689

Re: European governments should sue Roche and prescribers should boycott its drugs

Tamiflu scandal: French government should be sued too.

Peter C Gøtzsche claimed that European governments should sue Roche because Roche has withheld data.(1) I think that Gøtzsche is missing the target. At least in France, the health ministry was an active accomplice.

On December 4, 2009, the ministry recommended the prescrition of oseltamivir and offered it for free. In the Journal, Goodle and Clarke questioned on 8 December, 2009: Why don’t we have all the evidence on oseltamivir?(2) No one should have missed the problem as this issue also featured 5 other pieces.(3-7)

This did not preclude the French health ministry providing its oseltamivir stocks to pharmacy on 21 December 2009.

Moreover, the health Ministry re-issued its recommendation one month later, in mid January 2010. The ministry also ignored that the Society of Pediatrics issued a warning on 30 December, 2009, against its recommendation. The Society of Pediatrics warned that: a) evidence for benefit/risk of oseltamivir was lacking; b) the flu epidemic has ended; c) that respiratory syncytial virus infection was on the rise and could be confused with flu.

1 Gøtzsche PC. European governments should sue Roche and prescribers should boycott its drugs. BMJ 2012;345:e7689.

2 Godlee F, Clarke M. Why don't we have all the evidence on oseltamivir? BMJ 2009 ;339:b5351.

3 Godlee F. We want raw data, now. BMJ 2009;339:b5405

4 Jefferson T, Jones M, Doshi P, Del Mar C.Neuraminidase inhibitors for preventing and treating influenza in healthy adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2009 ;339:b5106

5 Doshi P. Neuraminidase inhibitors—the story behind the Cochrane review. BMJ 2009;339:b5164

6 Cohen D. Complications: tracking down the data on oseltamivir. BMJ 2009;339:b5387

7 Freemantle N, Calvert M. What can we learn from observational studies of oseltamivir to treat influenza in healthy adults? BMJ 2009;339:b5248.

Competing interests: No competing interests

20 November 2012
Alain Braillon
public health
GRES
27, rue Voiture. 80000 Amiens. France
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