Tamiflu: The Emperor Has No Clothes
A closer look at the scientific validation of safety and efficacy of Tamiflu.
By Michael T. Murray, ND
About the Author
Michael T. Murray, ND, is president and CEO of Dr Murray's Natural Living and Director of Product Development and Education for Natural Factors, Monroe, Washington, a major manufacturer of nutritional and herbal supplements. Murray is a graduate of, faculty member for, and member on the board of regents of Bastyr University, Kenmore, Washington, where he received his doctorate in naturopathic medicine. He is coauthor of A Textbook of Natural Medicine (Churchill Livingstone, 2012) and the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Atria Books, 2012). He has also written over 20 other books, including Dr Murray’s Total Body Tune-up (Bantam, 2013) and The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines (Bantam, 2008).
Tamiflu has not been proven to have a positive impact on the potential consequences (such as hospitalizations, mortality, or economic impact) of seasonal, avian, or pandemic influenza.
- According Richard Smith, for 25 years the editor of the British Medical Journal, “Major medical journals are just an extension of the marketing departments of major drug companies.”1
- Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, states, “Journals have devolved into information-laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry.”2
- Marcia Angell, for 20 years the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, comments that the drug industry is “primarily a marketing machine” that is intent on co-opting “every institution that might stand in its way.”3
- From JAMA: It is estimated that 95% of medical studies in the most prestigious journals contain false or misleading statistics.4
The current situation with Tamiflu once again highlights one of the key problems with medical research: It is funded primarily by drug companies who have a vested interest in the outcomes
- More than 90% of the clinical research done on drugs in the United States is funded by drug companies and conducted by clinical research organizations (CROs) who obviously try to produce data that the drug company will be pleased with.5
- Research conducted by CROs on behalf of a drug company is owned by that drug company and they control how it is interpreted, manipulated, and disclosed.6
- The overwhelming majority of research studies in medical journals are drug-sponsored and written by “ghost authors.” In one analysis, ghost authorship occurred in 40 of 44 articles (91 percent), and in 31 trials the ghost author identified was a statistician.7
- Two former employees of Adis International, a large communications company, have come forward with documents showing they had ghostwritten some of the published studies of Tamiflu with specific instructions from Roche’s marketing department.8
- Smith R. Medical journals are an extension of the marketing arm of pharmaceutical companies. PLoS Med. 2005;2(5): e138.
- Horton R. The dawn of McScience. New York Rev Books. 2004;51:7-9.
- Angell M. The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive us and What to Do About It. New York, NY: Random House; 2004.
- Peer Review Congress. JAMA. 2002;287(21):2749-2898.
- Shuchman M. Commercializing clinical trials-risks and benefits of the CRO boom. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(14):1365-1368.
- Bodenheimer T. Uneasy alliance—clinical investigators and the pharmaceutical industry. N Engl J Med. 2000;342(20):1539-1544.
- Gøtzsche PC, Hróbjartsson A, Johansen HK, et al. Ghost authorship in industry-initiated randomised trials. PLoS Med. 2007;4(1):e19.
- Brownlee S, Lenzer J. The truth about Tamiflu. The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200912u/tamiflu. Published December 10, 2009. Accessed December 20, 2009.
- Doshi P. Neuraminidase inhibitors—the story behind the Cochrane review. BMJ. 2009;339:b5164.
- Godlee F, Clarke M. Why don’t we have all the evidence on oseltamivir? BMJ. 2009;339:b5351.