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Cochrane reviewer sues Roche for claiming Tamiflu could slow flu pandemic

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 27 January 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m314
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

A UK epidemiologist and Cochrane Collaboration researcher is suing the drug company Roche in the US, claiming that it defrauded federal and state governments by falsely claiming that its antiviral drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu) could be a powerful tool in mitigating a flu pandemic.

Tom Jefferson, a frequent contributor to The BMJ, is suing as a private whistleblower for $1.5bn (£1.1bn; €1.4bn), roughly the amount that US public health authorities spent building up their pandemic stockpile of oseltamivir. The stockpile is still maintained today, though recent purchases have involved generic versions, as Tamiflu’s main patent expired in 2016.

Should Jefferson win, he would be awarded up to 30% of any monies recovered, while the rest would be returned to public coffers.

Jefferson’s Cochrane acute respiratory infections group was engaged by the UK government to undertake a major review of the effectiveness of oseltamivir in 2009, after an outbreak of virulent type A influenza H1N1 made headlines worldwide. …

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