Minerva

The pharmasceptic debate and other stories . . .

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g3616 (Published 04 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3616

Speaking of the mass stockpiling of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime (2013), Peter Gøtzsche wrote “Roche has committed what looks to me like the biggest theft in history.” Readers of the BMJ will have read plenty on this subject, including the trenchant views of Tom Jefferson and colleagues who have analysed the evidence in minute detail and concluded that the effectiveness of oseltamivir is uncertain. This has not deterred other companies from developing other potentially lucrative anti-influenza drugs. The latest is nitazoxanide, which has undergone its first large trial in the US (Lancet Infectious Diseases 2014, doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70717-0). It seems to reduce the symptoms of flu-like illness by less than a day on average. Further trials need to pay close attention to Jeffersonian principles of rigour in design and reporting.

If Gøtzsche stands at one extreme of the pharmasceptic debate, then Barton, Stossel, and Stell stand at the other. In the International Journal of Clinical Practice (2014;68:666-73, doi:10.1111/ijcp.12438 …

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