LONDON, March 19 Using Roche's medicine
Tamiflu saved lives during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic four
years ago, according to a new scientific study published on
The pooled analysis of data, involving more than 29,000
patients from 38 countries, was funded by the Swiss drugmaker
which hopes the findings will reassure governments about the
value of its flu drug following criticism from some doctors.
Jonathan Nguyen-Van-Tam of the University of Nottingham and
colleagues found that treatment with neuraminidase inhibitor
drugs - principally Tamiflu - reduced the risk of death during
the pandemic by 19 percent compared with no treatment.
The greatest benefit was seen when treatment was started
within two days of symptoms developing, when the risk of death
was halved, they reported in the journal Lancet Respiratory
The same survival benefit was evident in pregnant women and
adults in intensive care. However, the researchers observed no
significant mortality reduction in children.
Tamiflu has been approved by regulators worldwide and is
stockpiled by many governments in case of a global flu outbreak.
Sales of the drug hit close to $3 billion in 2009, due to the
H1N1 swine flu pandemic, although they have since declined.
The value of such stockpiles has since been fiercely
debated, with some researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration,
a non-profit group, claiming there is little evidence Tamiflu
Cochrane has lobbied since 2009 for Roche to hand over all
its data from clinical trials of the medicine - something the
company agreed to do last year.
The row prompted a British parliamentary committee to
criticise government spending on Tamiflu in a report in January.