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Tamiflu reduces complications of flu, new review finds

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h537 (Published 30 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h537
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1The BMJ

A new analysis of oseltamivir (marketed as Tamiflu) has found that the antiviral drug shortens the duration of symptoms of flu by about a day and reduces the risk of complications, such as pneumonia, and admissions to hospital of patients with confirmed flu.

The analysis, published in the Lancet, was led by Arnold Monto, professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and Stuart Pocock, professor of medical statistics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It was funded by the Multiparty Group for Advice on Science (MUGAS) Foundation through an unrestricted grant by oseltamivir’s manufacturer, Roche.1 The effectiveness of neuraminidase inhibitors such as oseltamivir has been much debated in recent years, especially as many governments have spent many millions of pounds on stockpiling the drugs in preparation for a flu pandemic. For example, England’s Department of Health spent £560m (€750m; $850m) on antivirals between 2006-07 and 2012-13, but MPs and the National Audit Office, which scrutinises public spending, have questioned this use of taxpayers’ money because of uncertainty over the drugs’ effectiveness.2

For the Lancet analysis, researchers used data on individual patients from nine trials …

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