LONDON, April 4 After a lengthy fight, Swiss
drugmaker Roche Holding AG said it had agreed to hand
over data from all clinical trials of its best-selling flu drug
Tamiflu to a group of outside researchers.
Tamiflu has been approved by regulators worldwide and
stockpiled by many governments in case of a pandemic, but some
scientists claim there is little evidence it works and have
lobbied since 2009 for Roche to release all its trial data.
Sales of the drug hit close to $3 billion in 2009 due to the
H1N1 swine flu pandemic, although they have since declined.
In an email to the Cochrane Collaboration, a non-profit
group that reviews trial data to assess the value of drugs,
Roche said it would provide clinical study reports on all the 74
studies into its medicine, over the next few months.
A copy of the April 2 email was supplied to Reuters on
Roche said it would edit the study reports to ensure patient
confidentiality and protect legitimate commercial interests,
adding that handing over the information would take time since
some of the reports ran to thousands of pages.
Campaigners who have been pushing pharmaceutical companies
to be more open said they were pleased Roche had finally done
the right thing, although they argued it should not have delayed
access to the data in the first place.
"It shouldn't have taken the researchers years of
persistence and publicity to get these Tamiflu results," said
Sile Lane, director of campaigns at Sense about Science.
The Cochrane group gave Roche's move a cautious welcome but
its researchers said they were still concerned that editing of
the data and other problems might make analysis and